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Day 5: Understand the role of the coach

By on September 5, 2010 in Resources
"Coach Bill Grier of the USD Toreros" by SD Dirk via flickr

"Coach Bill Grier of the USD Toreros" by SD Dirk via flickr

This article is part of the series “30 days to being a better basketball player“.

Understanding the role of the coach

In basketball, while players are usually expected to do one thing – play – the coach must fill several different roles to give his/her team the best chance for success. Some of these roles are:

  • Student – to be able to coach first requires learning about the game and all of its different aspects (for example: the rules of the game, practice drills and game plays).
  • Teacher – anyone can dump their knowledge on you, but teaching skills effectively is an art form – the best coaches have learnt how to teach well and get players to listen to them. And a good teacher will also be quick to discipline his team and players when necessary.
  • Encourager – every team goes through ups and downs; honest and constructive encouragement is key to ensuring that the team comes out of the downs stronger than they were.
  • Strategist – knowing what players to use and what plays to call can’t be left to luck; each coach must know their team’s strengths and weaknesses in order to plan in advance for game scenarios and give the team its best chance of success.
  • Leader – the captain is the leader on the floor, but its up to the coach to empower the team captain on the floor and to control the team’s direction of the floor and between games. A coach that can’t lead will take his team nowehere.

When the coach is adequately fulfilling the necessary roles, its easy for the team to take it for granted since things have a better chance of running smoothly. It’s only when one or more of these roles are not being fulfilled that things go wrong and the importance of them becomes painfully obvious to everyone around.


"Chris Paul Basketball Coach" by Tulane Public Relations via flickr

As a coach, it’s important to understand the vital role you play in the wellbeing of the team. Thankfully most basketball coaches do what they do because they love it, and its this passion (for the team and for the individual players) that is perhaps the single most important factor in determining whether a team can perform to its full potential.

For players, consider how much your coach actually has to do, then let them do it. The best thing you can do is show them respect, listen to them and learn from them. Arguing or fighting with a coach very rarely produces anything good and usually only leads to problems. If you have a fundamental problem with them then it needs to be sorted out with them, preferably in private. Otherwise just do what you need to do and let them do what they need to do. You might just be pleasantly surprised at what you learn.

Some useful reading and resources about coaching:

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