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25 “MUSTS” IF YOU WANT TO SUCCEED IN COACHING

1. Have balance… love and take care of your family.

Don’t confuse working hard, being dedicated and committed with forgetting about your family.  You can do all of the things listed below and still love your family, spend quality time with your spouse and children.  They are your rock.

2. Be rooted in the fundamentals of the game.

You must teach the fundamentals of the game. Make your players better and more skilled. Make your drills “little pieces” of the game itself.  Players want to improve everyday, real players.

3. Building your relationship with each team member.

They have to want to go to battle for you, to work past their limitations each day for you.  To choose what is right over what is easy when you and your staff aren’t looking.  Build this on and off the floor.

4. Have a System.

You have to have a system and you have to sell it every day to your players. Players see through BS… they know phonies and pretenders. Know your stuff, believe in your stuff and get your players to believe in it too.

5. Motivate Everyone

Players, staff, support staff, fans, administrators… make being around you vital to their day.  You want your team to know, deep in their gut that they could not perform as well if you weren’t there with them. Challenge your players, your staff.  Understand him or her and know how to do it the right way for each individual.

6. Organization.

Everything… Pre-season, out of season, in season. Play books, scouting reports, self-evaluation – look in the mirror. Organizing your staff. Do you have an outline of staff and players expectations?  Responsibilities?

7. Positivity.

Positive energy is contagious.  Players have to live and breathe your energy.  They know when you have their back and when you don’t. Be positive when things are at their worst.  Adversity shows our character.  Give positive feedback when times are tough. Use positive reinforcement to rebound from a loss. Would your team be surprised if you were really positive after a “bad” loss or a “tough” loss?

8. High energy.

Again, It’s contagious. Energy works itself into every person involved with your program. High energy sets a tone… “If I’m like this, you can be too”

9. Intensity.

Same as High Energy… players will feed off your intensity, they will mimic your intensity. If you don’t think team’s take on the personality or intensity of their coach – you’re kidding yourself.

10. Be on your game.

Do you know all the rules of your league, conference?  Know the game rules… like time-out rules, substitutions, and the rules for what officials are calling.  Read the rulebook in the off-season.  You look foolish in front of your players and they won’t believe in you if you don’t know what is going on.

11. Communication.

Speak to people the way you want to be spoken to.  Didn’t we learn this in kindergarten?  Coach and referees. Coach and staff.  Coach and players.  Coach and fans.  Coach and media.  Conduct yourself properly.  Demand that your staff conduct themselves properly.  Your team will deal with those people in the same way that you do.  Give them and example to follow.  Communicate in a professional manner. This doesn’t mean you can’t be intense and disagree with people.  Do it in a manner that is professional and respectful.  Be honest.

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12. Work Ethic

If you are going to be better than the next coach… you have to work harder than they do.  If you aren’t going to out work them, then your ego has gotten the best of you.  Stay humble.  Stay hungry.  Keep working.  The only way to get ahead is through work ethic.

13. Understanding Ego and bringing it together

Player egos.  Coaching staff.  Assistants.  You have to understand everyone has an ego.  Understand who people are and what they need.  Learn what it is to make them feel good, to keep them focused and driven to work, play for you.  Ask questions, listen to the answers.  Understanding and respecting managers, trainers, and strength & conditioning coaches… they all need to feel the love!

14. Develop Respect

Respect is earned, not taken.  Leaders earn respect.  People who have power try to take it.  How do you earn respect?  Understand you are always “ON” for your players.

15. Have an “Inner Circle”

Who’s in your inner circle?  Who can you lean on for advice – not necessarily in coaching?  Everything.  Call them on occasion and ask, “Have you ever faced…”  Learn from their experiences.  Not just basketball, but as a person, husband, wife, father, mother, friend, leader.  In basketball… identify what will make your program better from them.  Hire a “Quality Control Consultant.”  Is your coach’s retreat a golf weekend or a self-improvement and evaluation time?

16. Consistent Behavior

Be consistent. Rules.  Standards of behavior.  Injuries.  Academics.  Maybe not hard and fast all the time… “If this happens, then this will happen…”, but a consistent approach at the minimum.

17. X & O Specialist

Know and believe in your knowledge of the game.  If it is not your strongest suit – work to improve, while surrounding yourself with great X & O people.  Have people who are better than you at certain aspects of the game:  individual workouts, zone defense, junk defense, and late game situations.  Whatever.  You make everyone better in your program when you hire someone who is better at something than you are.  Don’t be afraid to admit that.

18. Your Staff

Hire the best coaches you can: tacticians, teachers, motivators, communicators, and recruiters. Equipment Manager, Strength & Conditioning Coach, Sports Psychology consultant and your Trainer – may be most important people you hire.  Be involved in the hiring process; don’t leave it up to someone else.  Why is this so?… Two reasons:  1.)  Loyalty.  2.)  Where do players complain? In the Locker room, training room, weight room to the sports psych person.  The staff you have in each of these rooms must have your back, understand your mission and help you daily.

19. Vision

What will you do if a starter gets injured?  Do you have a plan?  Does your team know your plan? Does your staff? Discuss it and make it clear, make it known.  When you do that, everyone will believe in you, feel confident in you and trust you.

20. How do you handle:  Wins – Losses?

This is more philosophy, so if you are not a PROCESS coach – this probably doesn’t apply.  If you are all about the result, it’s tough.  Handle wins and loses the same.  I’m not saying accept losing or down play that it is terrible to lose.  But, talk to players, staff in the preseason about “how we act when we lose.”  Be certain everyone knows what your feelings are, what you expect when we lose.  Losses are a time to evaluate, look inside, to ponder, reflect. Do you allow laughter? Silence? Cell phones? Music?  Your expectations should be given when no emotion is involved.

21.  Enjoy every Win

Everyone should enjoy every win.  Especially you.  Winning is too hard not to enjoy every one of them.  We die inside with every lose; we have to take time to enjoy the wins.  Re-focus and get back to work the next morning, after the game – after a win – be happy, enjoy it.

22. Keep it Fresh

For most, basketball, coaching,  is almost 12 months out of the year.  It can be all consuming.  You have to do things to keep your players, your staff and everyone from getting in a rut.   Grab the player’s attention.   Wake your staff up.  Have some fun once in a while.  You’ll know when.  Vary your drills.  Focus on the teaching points, but finds new vehicles to get them there.  Walk into the office one day, take your staff to breakfast and go to a movie.  Look for cutting edge ways to be creative.

23. Explain each person’s strengths, weaknesses and their role.

Discuss players’ rolls once you understand strengths and weaknesses, both individually and of team. Don’t mislead players. Explain to them why they are playing the time they are playing, show them on film and in practice and games how to improve and stay positive with their impact to the team’s success no matter what their role is. The very same thing is true with your coaching staff.  Give every staff member a special responsibility, purpose… defense, offense, late game, SOB/BOB, etc…  Do this with non-coaching assignments as well.  Rotate assignments.

24. Build Great Chemistry.

Get along on and off the court. Team building activities and retreats, board game night in the locker room with pizza, movie night, sport psych person is huge here.  Do things together away from basketball.  Show your team and your staff your personality.

25. Goals.

Discus your team’s goals early.  Make them realistic and worth working for.  Engage your team in establishing standards of behavior and have them lead into how those standards feed into your goals.  Set clear goals for your future. Short term and long term.   When those goals are attained, re-evaluate them and set new ones.  You should have your team engage in something that is goal related everyday.

25.1.  Think tank, the “What if” game.

Welcome ideas from everyone and anyone.  Gives them ownership in the program and the goals.  You don’t have to act on every idea and some will be bad ideas, but the process is great for staying ahead of the curve.  Don’t become complacent in coming up with new ideas

25.2. Leadership

I have been preaching leadership for over a year.  I can’t leave it out.  It is too critical.  Possibly, above everything else… a successful coach has to be a leader.  Has to be able to empower those around them to want to be great at everything they do.  Leaders handle what is real, what is going on around them and not as they’d like it to be.  Don’t lie to yourself, make excuses or justifications.  Everything has a reason; don’t turn “reasons” into “excuses.”

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