Developing a Winning Basketball Coaching Philosophy

Formulating Your Basketball Coaching Philosophy
By Brad Winters

One of the first steps to becoming a successful basketball coach and building a winning basketball program is to formulate an effective basketball coaching philosophy.

Of course, this is a very personal assignment and depends solely upon you, the coach. While you will ultimately have to handle this task on your own, I have some helpful advice to keep in mind:

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Set Goals For Your Basketball Team

First determine what you want your team to accomplish, and what you want them to get out of the experience. What's most important? Winning? Getting along with each other? Both?

In other words, set priorities. If you're coaching a youth level team, simply getting everyone some playing time might be your top priority. This will most likely not be the case, however, if you're an AAU, high school, or above coach.

Evaluate Your Basketball Coaching Style

Whether you're aware of it or not, your coaching style will play a huge part in determining how you implement your philosophy.

Your style is often an extension of your personality. Assess your general demeanor and identify your best and worst qualities in this area. If you are too soft-spoken or hotheaded off the court, most likely, you will assume a similar persona when coaching. This is not always, true, of course, but the exercise will get you thinking about the manner in which you coach.

Assess your players in the same manner. As you become more familiar with your team, you'll be able to gauge its personality as a whole as well as the personalities of the individuals it comprises. In honing your coaching style, try to pinpoint an approach that will work effectively and cohesively with your players, individually and as a group.

Once you've assessed these qualities, make an effort to nurture your strongest characteristics and incorporate them into your style. Be aware of your weakest traits so you can detect and eliminate them when they begin to surface on the court.

Remember to be yourself. Improve your personality, don't try to assume a new one altogether. Your players will see through your attempts to become someone you're not.

Stay Open-minded And Flexible

Always remain open to change. If you find that your philosophy or style is proving increasingly less effective, refusing to adapt will only cause you and your team frustration.

Every so often, evaluate your situation. Most likely, your roster and your opponents change every year. Furthermore, the face of basketball itself is changing. By taking stock of your situation, you may find that your methods need some fine-tuning to better fit your present responsibilities and concerns.

Demand perfection from your players but handle mistakes and weaknesses with understanding. You're dealing with people, after all, so you must expect some flaws.

Of course, this does not mean you should overhaul your coaching beliefs every time you face a little difficulty. It simply means that if you remain flexible, and never assume that your way is always right, you will save yourself and your players a great deal of aggravation.

Remember, It's Only A Game

Never forget why you became a coach. Hopefully, it's because you love the sport and you enjoy working with and helping people. If that's the case, don't lose sight of your passion and enjoyment for the game.

With this in mind, find ways for you and your players to have fun. That's why you're both there.

Your coaching philosophy will develop with time and will most likely evolve with the ever-changing demands and challenges you face. It's not set in stone, it's not a written statement, and you probably can't even verbalize it in a tidy sentence. It's simply the way in which you coach, and you alone know its origins, its finer points, and all of the beliefs of which it consists.

Therefore, while I can't develop or adapt your philosophy for you, the tips above may help you to find some clarity and insight into what you want to accomplish. Good luck!

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