Having coached for forty years and looking back to those beginning times, I wish that I had had an article with tips for basketball coaches that would warn me of some of the pitfalls that were ahead of me.

However, at the time, I am pretty sure I wouldn‘t have read it and if I did, I would have thought that none of it applied to me. With that in mind, I decided to jot down ten thoughts for beginning coaches. The word beginning can be crossed out. That‘s because I think these thoughts can be useful for any coach. What do you think?

Not every player will be interested in every practice.

No matter how much experience you have or how great you are at teaching, you will encounter times in the gym when players are just not interested. Don‘t give in to the temptation to scold or yell. Instead, try changing your tone of voice. Try moving around. Try both. You can even switch from talking to a physical activity, like a scrimmage. The process of the scrimmage may increase the players‘ understanding and, possibly, their level of interest.

Teach them anyway.

If a practice is going badly, stop and regroup.

Even if you have planned a detailed practice and have a clear goal in mind, if your approach is not working – for whatever reason – stop! Regroup and start over with a different approach, or abandon your planned practice entirely and go on to something else. Afterward, be honest with yourself as you examine what went wrong and make plans for the next day.

Do it. Do it right. And do it right now.

Coaching will get better.

Maybe not tomorrow or even next week, but at some point, as you keep at it, your job will get easier. Do you remember your very first practice? Were you nervous? Of course. So was I.

See how much your coaching has already improved? By next year you will be able to look back on today and be amazed at how much you have learned and how much more easily you do your job.

You do not have to say yes to everything.

Do not feel that you must say yes each time you are asked to participate. Know your limits. Practice saying: Thank you for thinking of me, but I do not have the time to do a good job with another commitment right now.

Of course, you must accept your responsibility as a professional and do your fair share, but remember to be realistic about your time..

Not every player or parent will love you.

And you will not love every one of them, either. Those feelings are perfectly acceptable. We coaches are not hired to love players and their parents. Our job is to teach players and, at times, their parents as well.

Players do not need you to be their buddy. They need a facilitator, a guide, mentor, a role model for learning and for character.

You cannot be creative every day.

When those times happen, turn to outside resources for help. Coaching books, teaching guides, clinics, professional organizations such as high school associations and the NABC are designed to support you in generating well-developed practices.

When you come up with your own effective and meaningful practices—and you will—be sure to share your ideas with other coaches. And do so with both veterans and newcomers to the profession.

You can’t do it all, all the time.

No one can manage classes, students, players, recruiting, media and – oh, yes, coaching – all at the same time and stay sane. A little multi-tasking can be good, but you must know your limits. Beware of burnout.

You will make mistakes. That’s life, and that’s how you learn.

No one can undo their mistakes. And berating yourself for mistakes is counterproductive. If the mistake requires an apology, make it and move on. Mistakes are life. Life is not a game. No one is keeping score.

Some days you will cry, but the good news is that some days you will laugh. Learn to laugh with your players and with yourself.

This is the best job on earth.

Stand up straight. Hold your head high. Look people in the eye and proudly announce: I am a Basketball coach!

Post Thanks to: Coach Jim Burson

Related: Better Basketball – The 10/50 Rule for Improvement


Coach Unplugged Podcast:

Ep 1630 Building a Tougher Team

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