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.
As basketball coaches we are always thinking about the different strategies that we can use to win games. We spend hours and hours of time picking the right plays, budgeting practice time, working on defense schemes, etc. These are all things that need to be done, but what if you are already shooting yourself in the foot before you ever really even get started? Coaches can diagram the best plays in the world but a player still has to be the one that puts the ball in the basket.
As much as coaches may hate to admit it, players ultimately win games. The great coaches recognize this and that is why they spend the time not only on strategy but also on each individual player and the team as a whole.
This article isn’t going to give you the play of all plays that no team can guard but in my opinion without the three areas that are going to be covered below it doesn’t matter what plays your team runs. It is up to the coach to evaluate their team and figure out a strategy that is going to give their team the best chance to win games. Whether you play an up and down style or you walk it up the floor and run sets it is up to you, but what your team can’t afford to be without are the three keys below.
Coaches need to get everyone headed in the same direction.
The coach needs to make sure that everyone is on the same page. Once you decide on a game plan for your team you need to make sure that everyone is doing their best to accomplish it. If you are going to walk the ball up the floor and run offense then you can’t have that one player on the floor that jacks up a bad shot every time they touch the ball. You have got to find your identity and then get your team to buy in. This goes for assistant coaches as well. Whether you believe in the head coaches philosophy or not you must do your best to support the head coach and get on board, especially with the players. You can suggest ideas to the coach in private but ultimately it is the head coach that makes the final call. You have most likely heard this analogy before, but think about being in a row boat. The only way it works is if everyone is rowing at the same time, same strength, and same direction. This is how your team must be to have success.
Coaches need to be able to motivate and get the best out of their players.
Be willing to spend the time on and off the floor learning about your players. Learn what makes them tick, what motivates them, and ultimately build a personal relationship with them. That is the only way that you will be able to get the best out of each player. Not every player responds the same way so it is your job to find out the best way to handle each player. You also need to spend the time with your players teaching them the game and developing their individual skills. If your team is hitting shots it makes up for a lot of mistakes. If you spend all your time working on executing different plays and then you don’t have players that are skilled enough to put the basketball in the hoop at the end of the play, it doesn’t really make sense. Developing your players will also help them to trust you more because they know that you are spending time to help benefit them personally.
Coaches need to build a winning culture that is built upon each year and where the returning players pass it on to the new players.
Once you spend all the time getting everyone bought in and heading in the same direction don’t waist it and start over again every year. Encourage your players that are returning to take on the responsibility of helping the incoming players to buy in. This is called building a winning culture. I had a player that I coached in high school go to Butler University on a recruiting trip and he told me that he watched the team play pick up without any coaches around. The team wasn’t playing hard enough and wasn’t executing the right way so the players called an early morning practice for the next day. No coaches were around but because these kids were bought in, they wanted to do things the right way. This is almost unheard of, but Butler did go to back to back national championships with a team whose individual skill level was no where near some of the teams that they beat. In my opinion you can’t do anything truly special without having specific players that are bought in and willing to lead the team from a player’s standpoint.
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