In my years playing basketball I played for a lot of coaches. Some of my coaches, like Rick Majerus, were amazing and had a very positive impact on my life. Some of them though were not so good. Some of them had a hard time succeeding and stalled the progression of the players playing for them.
I won't claim to know every tiny detail of how to become a great basketball coach but I do know that each of the successful coaches I played for all had 5 things in common that they did really well. The purpose of this article is to highlight and expound upon those 5 traits.
1. Be Yourself
Really, just be who you are. Don't try to change personalities if it isn't truly you. Most coaches have a set of principles that they live by and I love that. Use your set of principles and be yourself. It is important to really know your players well and to take the time to find out who they are what motivates them.
I am naturally one who gets very upset when things aren't done correctly and I respond that way. I don't swear at all so that doesn't come out, but each player knows when I'm bothered by what is taking place out on the court. My advice, be who you are and if that means the second coming of Bobby Knight then so be it.
If players sense that you are trying to be someone you really aren't, they will doubt your ability to lead them.
2. Get Organized
If you want to gain the players' respect then get organized in everything that you do. This includes starting time for practices and ending times as well. This includes when you have team meals if that is your level of coach. Have your practice structured with each drill timed so that everything can be taken care of.
Players like structure and they don't mind discipline if done correctly. Make a practice plan so that each player knows what to expect that day. As a coach you will gain so much respect that way because your players will know exactly what to expect. If a player senses that you are disorganized they will question the legitimacy of your knowledge.
3. Develop a Strategy
What is your theory for teaching these players? I've referred to this team quite a bit, but Loyola Marymount when I was growing up was amazing to watch. These guys tried to get a shot off every 5 seconds. That was the coach's philosophy and strategy. No player passed up an open shot. What is your strategy? Is it slow down? Does it depend on the players you have?
Can you adapt to the players you have and change? Have some strategies planned and structured but let the kids know how you want to play and see how they react. Good coaches can and will change according to the players that they have. Whatever that strategy is, communicate it with your players.
In most cases even if they aren't thrilled with the strategy they will understand it and accept it if they know what is going on. The worst thing you can do is give your players the attitude of "it's my way or the highway and you're doing this because I said so."
4. Be Humble & Learn from other Coaches
Most of us do this without even knowing it. We watch the game as if we are the coach. As a coach it is important to watch as much as possible and study so that you can see what works and what doesn't. If I know that I'm weak in press offense and I'm playing some pressing teams then I had better go watch some other coaches and see how they attack it.
Don't think that you know it all because you don't and you'll get beat if you think that. Preparation is a giant key and the coach that understands that he doesn't know everything usually wins in the end.
5. Show Discipline
Good coaches understand that discipline is necessary for every team. Discipline to me is being consistent with the rules for the good of the team always. If I have a player who consistently is late for practice then I will punish that player in some way regardless of how good he or she may be.
Consistency is the key. A good coach will not need to really discipline the players because the discipline is expected when the negative action is taken. Much like parenting, but understanding that basketball is just a game and that kids will be kids. A good coach understands that discipline on a player can effect the long term as well as the short term and that is always taken into account.