This article was contributed by Kyle Ohlman of basketballhq.com The site is a workout resources for coaches and players with hundreds of videos for ideas for skill development workouts.
Being a coach requires you to have many different jobs; developing your players, teaching character, etc. but the main job is to win games. A coach carries around his/her win loss record for their entire career. A coach of mine in college used to say, “This win or loss isn’t going to go on your record as a player, but it will go on mine as the head coach.” Since winning is the main objective I think it is worth figuring out the best way and the right way to prepare your team to win games.
Basketball is a game of details and there are so many little details that can add up to a win or a loss. For example having high hands on defense may not be a huge deal, but if you add that with communicating, being in the right position, rotating, hedging on a ball screen, etc. it can be the difference between a good team and a bad team. The small details are usually the hardest parts of the game for players to learn and master. Most of them have never been taught the right way to do things, and there isn’t any glory for being in the gap or help side on defense. As a coach it is your job to explain the right way to do things and also create a culture that values the details of the game.
Once you have explained the right way to do things you must be consistent. It doesn’t matter whether it is your best player or your worst player they need to be held to the same standard. Sure there will be times to show grace but if you are inconsistent then your players will not truly buy into what you are trying to do. Just like any habit good or bad it takes time and repetition to learn. Believe in the process and be willing to stick with it for the return on the back end.
Come to practice with the same intensity everyday. Whether you have won or lost the last few games believe in your system, players, and style. A lot of coaches will start relaxing after they have won a few games in a row and this sets the team up to not be ready for the next game. On the other hand I have seen coaches lose a close game and just like Chicken Little come in thinking the world is ending and that everything needs to be demolished and started over. Come into practice ready to work and get your team better everyday regardless of whether you are winning games or losing them.
I was fortunate to have some really good coaches in my playing career that I could learn from and grow as a player. My coaches knew that it was important to invest in your players and that better players make better teams. Take the time to improve your players skill sets as well as their basketball IQ’s. It doesn’t matter how great the plays are that you draw up if your players miss the shot at the end of every play. Not only will player development help your team to become better, it will also give your players a better chance to play at the next level.
Players can tell if a coach really has their back or not and when a player knows that the coach is behind them they will give everything they have on the floor. Take the time to invest in your players and build real lasting relationships with them. Be hard on them and hold them accountable but be fair and invest in them off of the floor as well. This will take more time out of your schedule, but you will realize that you are usually the one that benefits the most from investing in your players lives.
One of my coaches used to always say this one line during practice, “You are winning or losing the game right now.” When you think about it, it makes so much sense. You don’t beat a test when you show up to the test; you beat it when you spend the hours of study time in preparation for it. This is the true difference between the great teams and the teams who are average. They understand the importance of practice and preparing for games the right way. Make sure that your team is bought in and takes advantage of practice the way that they should. Believe in the process and even though it may be hard at first it will be worth it down the line.
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