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The Kind of Coach Players Want to Play For

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The key to becoming an outstanding coach is not to focus on forcing your players to listen to you, but on making yourself the kind of coach they want to play for. You must become a highly competent, completely trustworthy coach that your players can believe in and follow.

These simple guidelines might help:

1. Leave your ego at the door.

The truly great coaches are not in coaching for their own personal gain and benefit. They coach in order to impact the lives of others.  Coach Don Meyer has always said that coaches just starting in the profession need to be willing to "suck scum." The quote from Lawrence D. Bell seems to say it another way, "Show me a man who cannot bother to do little things, and I'll show you a man who cannot be trusted to do big things."

2. Relationships first and X's & O's second.

Coaching is leadership and leadership is teaching and influencing. Nothing more, nothing less. Because of this, coaching is much more than understanding offenses and defenses; it's about cultivating relationships. Since people go along with people they get along with, it's crucial that you build genuinely strong relationships with everyone on your team.

3. Make excellence your trademark.

John Maxwell has written,"No one respects and follows mediocrity. Leaders who earn the right to lead give their all to what they do. They bring into play not only their skills and talents, but also great passion and hard work. They perform on the highest level of which they are capable." Aristotle once said, "We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence therefore is not an act, but a habit." If you want to be an outstanding coach you must commit to excellence.

5. Put your emotions aside.

Coaching is easy when you are winning and everything is going great. It's when everything seems to be going wrong that you earn your title of coach. During almost every season, there will be a time when coaches must choose between "man up" or give up. During those tough and stressful times, emotional decisions and reactions usually make things much worse.

6. Make a difference.

Coaches who are loved and respected long after they have finished their coaching careers are those men and women who positively impact the lives of their players both on and off the court. A school team will typically play about 25-30 games a year but a coach's influence can and often does last a lifetime. Make sure that influence is positive not negative and that it extends far beyond the walls of the gym.

7. Empower your players.

Encourage, no insist, that your players consider it to be "our team" not your team. Ask for their input and then listen to them. Encourage them to expand their skill sets and refuse to stereotype them based on size or body type. Sell them on the idea that the sky's the limit both collectively and individually if they will only buy into the program, have great attitudes, and work hard.

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