Coaching Prerequisites

What to Discover or Recall:

Comprehend that coaching is all about the players, not the coach.
Discover that great coaches are great teachers.
Realize that coaching requires real commitment and dedication.
Find that coaching requires careful planning and thought.
Learn that player learning and performance is significantly increased by positive, rather than negative, reinforcement.
Find out the magnitude and responsibility of player safety and injury prevention.
Realize the importance of ALL of your players in having a beneficial and rewarding basketball experience.

Before You Step Out Onto the Court

4 E's of basketball

If you treat a man as he would be and could be, he'll become what he could be and would be; if you treat him as if he is, he'll remain as he is. --- Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

| Demeanor | Legal Liability | Safety | Team Atmosphere | Communication | Conditioning | Rules | Best Effort |

Player performance is directly related to coach's ability to teach. Therefore, before stepping out on the court, coaches should possess a solid working knowledge of the laws of learning and teaching methods. Coaches must not only possess the knowledge of the game and how to teach it, but they must also possess the enthusiasm and enjoyment for doing it and impart this energy to their teams.

Coaching requires a real commitment and dedication. Before undertaking any defensive system, coaches must be well organized and prepared. This requires careful planning and thought. Since most programs do not have a lot of practice time, it is imperative that coaches analyze and organize their time wisely. First identify which skills the players need to know, how well they need to know them, and under what conditions they are to do them.

Be sure to include the 'when' and 'why' along with the 'how' when teaching and developing player and team skills. There are certain fundamentals every player must master, and in addition each position also has specific fundamentals to learn. Teach using quick mental pictures. Use descriptive, one syllable words associated with the technique whenever possible. Do not over coach, keep your instructions simple.

Coach's Demeanor

A coach's appearance and demeanor sets the tone for a conducive, learning environment. Therefore, it is important that all coaches dress appropriately for practice. Be fully aware of the importance of positive body language. Players are influenced more by what you do than what you say. Earn the respect of all your players by being reliable, consistent and fair.

Be early to all games and practices. Be organized and prepared. All practices should be well planned and executed. However, be flexible and ready to improvise. Sometimes even the best of well laid out plans can go awry or get disrupted.

Inherited Personal Liabilities

Coaches on all levels of the game, paid or volunteer, must be acutely aware of the legal ramifications and responsibilities that accompany coaching. These personal liabilities cannot be ignored or avoided. Criminal charges and civic lawsuits, no matter how frivolous and unjustified, are very serious matters that can be devastating and costly, even when they are won or dismissed.

Liability laws have been enacted to protect athletes and to provide for a safe and healthy environment. Examples of coaches’ personal liability can include: Failure to Stay within Job Description, Faulty Equipment or Usage, Insufficient Supervision, Inadequate Instruction, Failure to Act Prudently During a Medical Emergency, Failure to Report Harassment (Bullying), Hazing or Sexual Misconduct, Failure to Supervise Volunteers, and Improper Transportation.

Learn More  Coaching Liabilities & Responsibilities

Injury Prevention and Player Safety

Unfortunately, in basketball injuries do occur. Most injuries will be minor. However, life threatening injuries can and do occur. Therefore, all coaches must be first aid trained and certified.

CAUTION: Do not ever put players at risk. Players will insist on playing injured. However, no matter how big the game, never play an injured player without a doctor's permission or until they are fully recovered.

Learn More  Player Injury & Safety


It's not enough to know your subject, you must also be aware of your player audience. Coaches must be good at explaining things. Communicate by keeping it simple. Talk to your players' level. Clarify rather than confuse. Tell them what you are going to teach them, then teach them, and finally, tell them what you taught them.

Be sure to teach your players to listen. It is imperative that any time a coach talks everyone listens (including assistant coaches). Demand and get eye contact of all players prior to speaking.

Use positive reinforcement and point out successful performances rather than negative ones. Find reasons to keep players rather than reasons to cut. Use constructive criticism when appropriate, but never yell. Have you ever heard of a teacher yelling at his/her students? Be a role model and never use profanity. Educated people can express themselves very clearly without the use of profanity.

Terminology is the only thing in the game of basketball that changes over time. Since players receive instruction from a variety of sources, it is very important that the entire coaching staff use the same offensive and defensive terms.

Team Atmosphere

Guarantee your players that they are going to play in a team atmosphere. Inform them that you are not going to tolerate anyone on the team that keeps others from learning, you from coaching or any other misbehavior.

Guarantee equal opportunity, but not equal time. Establish significant roles and assignments for every player on the squad. If you can't, then release them.

Get rid of the non-workers. Great teams are a result of the best players being the hardest workers. No one steps on the floor without full hustle attitude. Insist on a team effort at all times.

Physical Conditioning

Player performance is dependent upon physical conditioning. They are only as good as their legs. Superior conditioning does not just happen nor is it acquired quickly. It is the result of a well planned and executed program of exercise, rest, and diet. With rest and diet being just as important as exercise.

Training is exacting and the responsibility is heavy. What is done off the court is as important as what is done on it. To be successful, each player as well as the team collectively, must possess the desire and determination to develop superior physical condition. Throughout the course of the season, the team will be pushed and trained hard. However, it is going to be up to each individual to see that their maximum physical condition is achieved and maintained. Anything less is a violation of a trust.

You should win at least two games during the season just on physical conditioning. There is no excuse for not being in better physical shape than that of your opponents.

Learn More   Physical Conditioning

Know the Rules of the Game

Learn and know the official rules of basketball, school rules, and conference rules. Attend official meetings. Make sure players know rules, especially the new changes. Knowing the rules of the game will definitely win or save at least one game during the season.

Abide by the rules. There is no joy or satisfaction in a tainted victory. Players must be taught to play hard and fair at all times. Fairness is what athletics and basketball are all about. Basketball records are a matter of personal pride. However, your record as a person and teacher is the most important record of all.

Giving Your Best Effort

"You never lose a game -- you only run out of time."

"Winning is the only thing!" This may be true on the professional level, however, on all other levels of the game of basketball giving your best effort is of the utmost importance. As long as you and your players give their best efforts at all times, you will be the real winners regardless of the score.

Winning is not an end product. But, rather, a by-product of execution of fundamental basketball skills and player effort. If you shoot, dribble, pass, rebound, and play defense well you don't have to look at the scoreboard to see who is ahead. Great coaches are great teachers.