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Warning Signs That You Are a Bad Basketball Coach

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I know literally hundreds of coaches but I've never met a single one who has ever set the goal to be considered a "bad" coach. On the contrary, most of us work very, very hard in becoming the best coach that we can possibly become. In fact, that is why you are reading this article - you want to know the signs of being a bad coach so you can avoid them. (Or correct them if necessary) 

However, despite even the best intentions, coaching careers sometimes take on a life of their own and before we know it we are "bad." Here are six warning signs that you may be a bad coach, or at least heading in that direction. 

1. Players are afraid of you 

Players may be slightly intimidated by you at first because of your size, your age, your perceived personality, or for just the fact that you're the head coach - but they can't be afraid of you. If they are afraid of you they will be hesitant to ask questions, to seek your advice concerning problems, or to make mistakes. They will start walking on eggshells and that will definitely affect their play. People in general are afraid of the unknown and young people are usually no different. Familiarity reduces fear! Come down from the ivory tower and let your players get to know you a little bit 

2. Your assistants work around you 

Coaching staffs need to be all on the same page when it comes to communication, philosophy, teaching techniques, and terminology. I've seen too many staffs where coaches hardly ever talk to each other, teach their players conflicting techniques (ex. force baseline vs. play straight up) and all pretty much just do their own thing. Many times this happens because the head coach has distanced himself from his coaches and starts acting more like a CEO than a colleague. Your assistants are there to "assist" you - not to do all the work themselves! 

3. You're a control freak 

There is a very fine but important line between being detail oriented and being a control freak. If you have the attitude that no one is as smart as you, is as competent as you, is as important as you, etc. then you are heading down the road to failure. Use your captains and assistant coaches in leadership roles whenever possible. Good coaching is just like good parenting - the goal is to get your kids to the point where they don't need you around all the time to function. You can't do that if you are dictating every single move you players make. 

4. You're pessimistic 

Every team is better than you are. Everyone has better players than you do. You can tell that the officials are going to screw you over just by how they walked out on they the floor. You yell at your team 20 times a practice, "Fremont is going to just kill us on Friday!" Sound familiar? I hope not because if it does you are not as good a coach as you can be. Players reflect the attitude of their coach. If you feel beat before you even compete then your players will feel the same way. They are going to wonder why they should work so hard if the outcome is already decided. To be a good coach, you can still be realistic but you need to spread hope, enthusiasm, and optimism even if you don't always feel that way yourself. 

5. You try too hard to be a "player's coach." 

Should you have great relationships with your players both on and off the court? Absolutely! But if you find yourself compromising your standards and expectations so they will "like you" you are not hall of fame coaching material. Some coaches don't hold their players accountable for the way they play and act because they don't want the players mad at them. I can guarantee you that those players who you let slide and don't hold accountable will never step up and come through in the clutch when you really need him. Guaranteed! Most players have lots of friends already; what they really need are mentors and role models. 

6. You're indecisive 

If you take an approach of ready, aim, aim, aim, aim. . . . you are a bad coach! Pull the trigger and make a decision already! If you are indecisive your players will never know what you want and expect from them. Timeouts will be more confusing than helpful and no one will ever be on the same page. As a basketball coach you have to make dozens of important decisions every year - what offense, what defense, team rules, playing rotation, how to warm up, how to motivate individual players, how to involve your staff and on and on and on. Like former Tennessee coach Pat Summitt used to say, "If you don't like making big decisions you shouldn't sit in the big chair!"

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