Coaching basketball is one of the most rewarding tasks that you can take on as a lover of the game. Not only are you around the wonderful game of basketball, but you are able to positively impact lives using basketball as the vehicle.
As rewarding as coaching basketball is, building great teams is not something that is done easily. It takes planning, preparation, execution, and buy-in from everybody involved.
It’s why we created this guide to building a great basketball team. Follow it, and you will give your team a great chance at success.
One of the most neglected aspects of coaching basketball is the preseason planning and preparation for your team. Without planning and prep-work, your team will struggle to find an identity throughout your season. With proactive planning for your team, you’ll set them up for success.
When you’re planning for your team’s season, you should evaluate the following.
Who will your team have this upcoming season. Evaluate what the team will look like and the roles your players may play. If you’re able to, evaluate film for each individual from the previous season to give those players a better idea of what they need to work on in the offseason.
As a basketball coach, you should have a plan in place for preseason workouts for your players. This should include agility drills, ballhandling, shooting drills, conditioning, and other areas that you deem necessary for your team to work on.
The offseason is where individual skills are built, the season is where team skills are built, and your preseason workouts should keep that in mind.
Evaluate what worked and did not work for your team in the prior season. Evaluate your team personnel that you will have and what plays fit that personnel. Look at new plays, and ultimately decide the offensive sets and defensive strategies your team will employ.
We recommend focusing on building a great motion offense, then adding sets that will work for your personnel.
Create a master plan of where you want your team to be at crucial junctures in the season, and then outline what each practice needs to incorporate to get there. Start backward with where you want your team to be by the start of the playoffs, and then work to outline how you can get there in your master plan.
Start with the overall plan and goals for your team for each month, then each week, and eventually create daily practice plans on how those goals can be accomplished.
Create a Tryout and Cut Process
Be sure that this is something you have planned out well in advance of the season and communicated effectively to all who wish to tryout. A clear tryout and cut process is important to prevent any issues from arising due to a lack of communication about the process.
Once you are in-season, individual skill development is still important, but team development should be at the forefront. It’s up to you as the coach to get your team playing at a high level. Aspects of coaching that can help your team excel are:
- Chemistry – How well is your team working together?
- Motivation – How motivated are your players to come in and work every day?
- Culture-Building – What standards are you upholding to ensure you are fostering a positive culture?
- Practice Planning – Are your practice plans matching up with the master plan you created in the offseason?
- Drills – Are your players being drilled properly in practices? Are you working on offense, defense, shooting dribbling, defense, rebounding, and other vital skills?
- Scouting – Are your opponents being scouted well, and are you able to articulate the information you gather on opponents to your team?
- Evaluation – What do you see when you watch your team on film? What stats stand out to you from your games?
- Make Adjustments – Are the offensive and defensive plays you outlined in the preseason not working? Are you able to adjust based upon what your team is showing you?
- Deal With Parents – Watch this webinar and never have to deal with another parent issue again.
- Keep Players Healthy and Fresh – Are you keeping your players from being burned out before the season ends? Are you keeping your bench players engaged enough to be able to step into a crucial game without drop-off?
While we couldn’t possibly highlight every single coaching strategy that you could encounter during your season, the aspects above highlight situations every coach will have to deal with throughout a season.
When it comes down to the games, what type of coach are you? Things to keep in mind throughout the game are:
- Fouls – When will you sub a player out? What do you deem as ‘foul trouble?’ When will you roll the dice?
- Stamina – Do you have players that are getting tired? Do you need to sub them out to prepare them for the final stretch of the game?
- Adjustments – What do you need to adjust that will help you against your opponent?
- Personnel – What offense and defense should you run with your current personnel in the game?
- Time – When do you hold for the final shot of a quarter?
- Mistakes – When do you take players out for mistakes that they make?
- Motivation – How are you able to motivate your team to give their best against the opponent?
- Starting Lineups – Do you need to make adjustments based upon the opponent or strategy?
- Sets or Motion – When do you let your players play freely, and when do you need to hunker down and run a set?T
- Game Situations – Is your team prepared for these game situations?
- Assistant Delegation – What do you delegate to your assistants during games? What do you want them to focus on?
- Pace – Do you want your players to run in transition or slow the game down?
- Timeouts – What do you use timeouts for? Do you call a timeout to setup a play at the end of the game or let your team play it out?
After the Season
After the season ends, give your players, coaches, and yourself a couple of weeks to decompress from the long season that you just endured. After you take a little break, you should:
- Evaluate the Season – Did the season go as you planned? What went well? What didn’t?
- Evaluate Your Players – Do a detailed evaluation of each player, preferably with film to back it up.
- Player Meetings – Meet with the players (and their parents, if you choose) to discuss the evaluation you put together. Be brutally honest in this process.
- Host a banquet – To summarize your season, host your team banquet to have your team together for one final time. You can give out awards, host a dinner, and have a fun time putting a cap on your season.
And this leads you straight into preseason preparation. Basketball coaching has become a 365 day job at the high school levels and beyond. Your preseason prep literally begins in April for the following November.
By keeping this cycle and implementing the tips we gave you throughout this post, you’ll have an opportunity to coach a basketball program with sustained success.