Coaching Basketball For Dummies book cover

Coaching Basketball For Dummies

By: and Greg Bach Published: 09-24-2007

So you’re thinking about volunteering to coach youth basketball? Great! You’re in for a fun, rewarding experience. Whether you’re new to the sport and looking for some guidance or you’re a seasoned coach hunting for some fresh tips, Coaching Basketball For Dummies will help you command the court with confidence.

Each friendly chapter is packed with expert advice on teaching the basics of basketball—from dribbling and shooting to rebounding and defending—and guiding your kids to a fun-filled, stress-free season. You get a crash course in the rules and regulations of the game, as well as clear explanations of what all those lines, circles, and half-circle markings mean on the court. You’ll assign team positions, run great practices, and work with both beginning and intermediate players of different age groups. You’ll also see how to ramp up your players’ skills and lead your team effectively during a game. This book will also help you discover how to:

  • Develop your coaching philosophy
  • Understand your league’s rules
  • Conduct a preseason parents’ meeting—crucial for opening the lines of communication
  • Teach offensive and defensive strategies
  • Keep your kids healthy and injury-free
  • Encourage good sportsmanship
  • Make critical half-time adjustments during a game
  • Help struggling players
  • Address discipline problems and handle difficult parents
  • Coach an All-Star or Travel team

Complete with numerous offensive and defensive drills and tips for helping your kids relax before a game, Coaching Basketball For Dummies is the fun and easy way to get the score on this worthwhile endeavor!

Articles From Coaching Basketball For Dummies

10 results
10 results
Coaching Basketball For Dummies Cheat Sheet

Cheat Sheet / Updated 02-22-2022

Being a basketball coach involves always being prepared for practice and running a practice that’s fun and productive. An effective coach keeps players motivated and builds both individual and team confidence. Know what to say and how to say it before, during, and after a basketball game to impact the performance and morale of your players.

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Dealing with a Ball Hog on Your Basketball Team

Article / Updated 03-26-2016

A ball hog — a player who hangs onto the ball for extended periods of time and always looks to shoot rather than pass — creates real problems for the entire team. For instance, a ball hog ignores open teammates who have worked to get into position to score, which undermines team morale and kills your sense of unity. As a basketball coach, you have to find a way to deal with this. If you have a ball hog on your team, you may get frustrated and not know what to do. Here are a couple ways a player can earn the unwanted ball-hog label and actions you can take to help him ditch it: He's unaware: Perhaps the youngster isn't aware that he's hanging onto the ball too much. He watches older players who score a lot and wants to emulate them. Maybe he's new to basketball or hasn't been involved in any type of team setting before, and he needs to get accustomed to how sharing the ball makes for a stronger and more effective unit. Go with drills that emphasize passing to help your players break their habit of dribbling and shooting every time down the floor. You can even hold no-dribble scrimmages, where players can only pass and shoot the ball. He receives mixed instructions: Perhaps the child receives conflicting instructions from his dad or mom at home. A parent may be telling the child that he's the team's best shooter and that he needs to take more shots. How can you tell? If the child seems to be doing everything differently than how you're instructing the team, do some investigating. Ask the child why he isn't listening to your instructions. Perhaps he didn't understand what you were saying. If he confesses that he's receiving conflicting instructions, that plops the youngster in confusing territory and forces you to step in. Talk to the child about his responsibility to be a team player and to listen to your instructions, and reinforce to the player's parents that they need to support what you're trying to teach the kids. If you have a ball hog on your team, take a closer look at your practices, because they may actually be causing some of the problems. During your drills, double check to make sure that you aren't allowing a player to dribble the ball for extended periods of time or to take the majority of the shots. If you notice inequity in your practices, resort to specific types of drills or scrimmages that eliminate opportunities for ball hogs to flourish.

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Modeling Good Sportsmanship as a Coach

Article / Updated 03-26-2016

As a youth basketball coach, teaching kids the importance of good sportsmanship can be challenging. What makes teaching (and modeling) good sportsmanship particularly tricky is that youngsters are bombarded with images of older basketball players trash talking, showboating, and disrespecting opponents and officials. However, keep in mind that you're fighting the good fight: Good sportsmanship is one of the healthiest ideals you can instill in your players. Incorporate the following suggestions into your coaching philosophy. They can help make your team one of the most liked and respected teams in the league (and your players the envy of all parents in the stands): Talk about sportsmanship outside your team. While your players are going through warm-ups, you can discuss a game they watched on television and ask whether they saw any displays of good sportsmanship. Praising these displays and subtly reinforcing their importance goes a long way toward instilling the right qualities in your players. Set a positive tone on game day by shaking hands with the opposing coach. The players, fans, and opposing coaches will notice your gesture of sportsmanship. Plus, it will remind everyone that basketball is just a game and you're all there for the kids. Always be a model of good sportsmanship. Don't yell at officials or question their judgment. If you aren't a model of good sportsmanship, you can't expect your players (or their parents) to be good sports. Your players will take their cue from you, so if you rant and rave about a call, expect your players to show disrespect toward the refs as well. Shake hands after the game. Regardless of the outcome, have your players line up and shake hands with the opposing team and its coaches. If your team won, your players should tell their opponents that they played a good game, and if your squad lost, your players should congratulate the opponents on their victory. Another classy move is for your players to shake the officials' hands following the contest. Recognize good sports during your post-game talk. Perhaps one of your players went out of his way after the game to congratulate an opponent who played a strong game. Recognizing such displays reinforces to your players that how they behave during and after games really does matter to you and to all the spectators.

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Assessing Your Basketball Players' Skills

Article / Updated 03-26-2016

Playing basketball requires a broad range of skills. As a coach, being able to assess a youngster's strengths and weaknesses is crucial for determining where he best fits in your lineup. Your early practices should offer a peek at a player's ability in specific areas. Scrimmages or games involving just a handful of players and drills are ideal ways to gain a real sense of a child's strengths and weaknesses in certain basketball skills. After you collect all this information on your players, you can take advantage of it by developing practice plans that focus on improving their weaker areas while enhancing their stronger skills. Footwork Good footwork pays off on the dance floor and the basketball court. Players who stand or move flat-footed tend to spend more time watching the action, which really affects their productivity (and fun) at both ends of the floor. Players who constantly move their feet create additional scoring opportunities through screens, cuts to the basket, defensive stops, and so on. During practice (and games), keep an eye on a player's feet, because footwork dictates how well he'll perform. Watch to see if a player stays on the balls of his feet when he's dribbling and if he shuffles his feet while defending. Competitiveness At the younger levels of play, how competitive a child is shouldn't be a focus. If they stay involved in the game long enough, most kids will gradually become more competitive. In the meantime, stick to helping them have fun, learn the game, and develop skills. At the more advanced levels of play, you should monitor how your players respond to challenges and difficult situations. If certain players are easily rattled, focus on building their confidence and stoking their competitive juices so they'll always put forth their best effort. To gauge competitiveness during practice, you can challenge the kids. See how many baskets they can make in a row. Or insert yourself into a drill and challenge the players to score on you or box you out for a rebound. Kids love going against their coaches, and if they can perform well against you, it can buoy their confidence. Body language and demeanor A basketball player's body language during practice and games speaks volumes. If his head droops or his shoulders sag, you can deduce that he probably isn't thrilled with his or the team's performance. Pay particular attention to the following: Is he too hard on himself when his shots aren't falling? Does he get frustrated when his teammates make mistakes? Does he embrace your suggestions, or is he easily offended by feedback? You can improve a player's mental approach to the game by imploring him to play each possession as though it's the first of the game. Players who have the ability to push aside prior possessions — whether they involved missed shots or turnovers — and focus entirely on the present put themselves in better position to achieve more success. Teamwork Youngsters who fire up and encourage their teammates, during practice and in games, and play an unselfish style of basketball are really valuable. Even when it isn't their turn to be on the floor or participate in a drill, or the scoreboard isn't in your favor, your players can be inspiring by encouraging teammates and applauding their hustle. On the flip side, kids who sulk or don't pay attention to the action on the court or your instructions during practice can damage team chemistry and kill morale.

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What a Good Basketball Coach Says before the Game

Article / Updated 03-26-2016

As a basketball coach, what you say to your players before tip-off — and how you say it — can have a big impact on how they play the game. Here are some ideas about what to say to your team before a game to set the tone for a fun day of basketball. One of the worst discussions you can have with kids before a game is talking about the opponent's win-loss record. Concentrating on records sends the unwanted signal that winning is the most important thing to you. Instead, steer conversations to other areas, such as those below. Being nervous is a good thing Let your players know that having sweaty palms or butterflies in their stomachs is perfectly normal and actually preferred. Nervousness is a good sign that they care about the game. Tell them that even pros get nervous before games! Remind the kids to take a few deep breaths to calm their nerves and relax and simply focus on performing the basic skills well. Win or lose, I support you No matter whether a child scores in double digits and your team wins or he fails to sink a basket and you lose, he should always receive the same treatment from you: support and positive reinforcement. And the child should know before the game that he'll get this. Mistakes are okay If you let your players know that even the best basketball players make mistakes and that you accept mistakes as part of the game, you'll enable them to take to the court more relaxed. Chances are they'll play more effectively because they won't fear failure or your reaction to it. Be a good sport Remind your players to hold their heads up and be respectful whether the team wins or loses, or whether they have a great day or a sub-par day. Also, let your youngsters know that you want them to show respect toward opponents and officials. During one of my games, I . . . By sharing some stories from your childhood basketball experiences, you help your kids remain calm, relaxed, and in the right frame of mind before the game begins. If you can laugh at yourself and joke about what happened during your playing days, a child can laugh with you and be less likely to get upset when she makes a turnover. Talk about your pals on the other team Ask your players if they know any of the kids on the other team. Doing so shifts the focus away from winning and losing and puts their minds on talking about their friends. If you're coaching an advanced-level team, you can also ask about the opponent's tendencies (if they tend to drive to the basket or prefer to loft jump shots, for example). If you played the team earlier in the season, discuss the positive aspects of your team's play that day to help put them in a positive frame of mind. I'm excited to watch you in action Kids want to play well to make their parents and coaches proud, so when you tell them that you have confidence in them and are eager to watch them perform, you give their self-esteem a big boost.

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Coaching Basketball Pregame through Postgame

Article / Updated 03-26-2016

As a basketball coach, you need to inspire your players to give their best effort during every game of the season. Keep these tips in mind when talking to your team before, during, and after a basketball game to keep the team focused, having fun, and playing hard: How to Deliver the Pre-Game Talk Speak in a calm and relaxed manner with a smile on your face. Be brief. Conduct the talk away from any potential distractions. Stress the importance of having fun and displaying good sportsmanship at all times during the game. Avoid using pressure phrases, like “Let’s score 20 points today.” Kids can give you their best effort, but they can’t control the outcome of games. Build the kids’ confidence by letting them know that you’re looking forward to watching them perform. How to Speak to the Team at Halftime Highlight the positives of the first half, regardless of the score, and stay upbeat. Don’t dwell on any mistakes, because they’re part of the learning process. Zero in on a couple main points that you want to get across. Giving the kids too much information to digest isn’t productive. Pile on the praise for their hard work in the first half. At the more advanced levels, solicit feedback and suggestions on strategy from your players. Tell them to drink water to rehydrate! How to Give the Post-Game Chat Keep the focus on the fun you had and the fun you will have. Don’t let the scoreboard influence what you say to the kids — or how you say it. Recognize the good sportsmanship your players displayed. Accentuate the positive. Conclude on a high note with a team cheer and send ’em home with a smile.

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Tips for Making Basketball Practice Fun

Article / Updated 03-26-2016

One goal as coach is to keep your basketball practices fun while maximizing time with your players. You can accomplish this by running practices that continually challenge, entertain, and motivate your kids while developing skills. To enhance your players’ enjoyment of basketball and have fun at practice, try these tips: Give each child plenty of repetitions. Keep the kids active; don’t force them to stand in lines. Involve the parents in drills to rev up the excitement. Sprinkle your practices with new drills throughout the season to keep the kids’ interest. If drills turn out to be boring or ineffective, discard them and switch to new ones. Give the kids the chance to select their favorite drills to use during practice. Solicit feedback and ideas from older kids on drills you should use. Stop practice briefly to point out when players do things well — not when they make mistakes. Applaud the slightest improvements to maintain your kids’ efforts. Conclude practice with the most popular drill to end the session on a high note.

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How to Motivate Your Basketball Players with Coaching

Article / Updated 03-26-2016

To motivate your basketball players to give their best efforts, not get discouraged, and strive to become the best they can be on the court, use these coaching tips: Continually encourage players to do their best on both ends of the floor — regardless of the score. Stay in control of your emotions, and refrain from yelling instructions all the time. Allow kids the freedom to make mistakes, and coach effort over skills. Always exude confidence in your players’ abilities. When correcting errors, use words that inspire confidence and reinforce positive thoughts. For example, instead of saying, “Don’t turn the ball over,” say, “Control the ball just like you did so well in practice this week.” Use timeouts to relay positive information to your players.

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Building Confidence with Coaching

Article / Updated 03-26-2016

Your job as a basketball coach is to be supportive and enthusiastic, always praising and encouraging your team to build their confidence. Self-confidence is a gift that lasts for years and impacts how kids approach life away from the basketball court. Use these coaching tips for boosting players’ confidence: When providing feedback, use the “sandwich” method: Place a critical remark between two encouraging comments. Reinforce that making mistakes is part of the learning process. Even the pros make mistakes every game. Give kids high-fives and pats on the back so they know that their efforts are appreciated. Set realistic goals so the kids can gain a real sense of satisfaction upon reaching them. Maintain positive body language. Never allow your tone or body language to reveal disappointment in a child’s performance or ability.

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Preparing for Basketball Practice

Article / Updated 03-26-2016

Showing up prepared for basketball practice is the most basic element of having a successful practice and one of your requirements as coach. You expect your players to come to practice prepared, so your kids deserve the same from you. The following list focuses on things you need to bring to practice: A practice plan with drills broken down by time segments. A list of reserve drills in case any of your scheduled drills are ineffective. Extra basketballs and any pylons or markers you need for specific drills. A whistle. A properly stocked first-aid kit. Here’s a quick glimpse at some of the items: Sterile gauze and athletic tape Bandages Bags of ice Latex gloves

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