Every coach needs to form their own basketball coaching philosophy, their own plan for what they want to teach their players and how they intend to do that. Is this important? Your coaching philosophy determines how you approach the game, your players, your duties as a coach. It determines how you shape your basketball players. So, yes, it is important.
Your Basketball Coaching Philosophy: Choosing Your Focus
Be broad in developing your overall philosophy, in deciding what is important to teach your players. Self-discipline is important, but not the only goal - players also need to be generous. Self-confidence is important - but players also need to be part of the team, not solitary individuals. Make a list of traits, organize them if you want in order of overall importance. Strive to develop them all.
Once you have decided what it is you want your players to learn from you - once you have decided on your own basketball philosophy, your own aims as a coach - write them down. Writing them down makes them real. If you don't write them down, you'll forget about them.
It is equally important to decide how you will teach these traits, because we are always teachers first. They need to learn to be respectful - you need to act as a model, demonstrating respect for them, for officials, for others in general. They need to be self-disciplined - so do you. Start practice on time, be prepared always, run a tough practice, and release them when you told them you would. More than anything, these traits we want them to learn will be taught by our example.
I didn't say it would be easy!
Write out your basketball coaching philosophy and refer to that philosophy often. It will change - we learn things as we go on (one benefit of getting older.) Adjust it, refine it as you see fit, keep it with you and refer to it periodically.
Your Basketball Coaching Philosophy: Making It Work
Creating your own philosophy is not terribly difficult. We all really want to do the same thing - improve our players, make them into better people, teach them skills that will help them be successful.
The difficult part is remembering that that is your aim. It is easy to get caught up in wanting to win, especially as most coaches tend to have competitive personalities (likely why we get into coaching to begin with) It is easy to get lost in the search for that elusive drill that will make all your players suddenly become superstars, or that incredible play that will allow you to run circles around last season's champions.
Make it a point to sit back every now and again and reflect upon what you are trying to accomplish. It is good practice to have daily practice plans - essential to a winning season, in fact - and as part of those plans there should be an evaluation of your players. Maybe not every practice, but deliberately, at least every two weeks or so, step back to evaluate the progress each player is demonstrating:
Game performance getting stronger?
And while you are evaluating them, add yourself into the evaluations:
Are you having the impact you want to have?
Where have you been weak?
What do you need to change so that you are having the impact you want on these young people?
How can you tweak your coaching so that your players reach their potential?
The great UCLA coach John Wooden developed his Essential Personal Traits and Abilities of a Coach - his own version of a basketball coaching philosophy - and no one can lay better claim to practicing these qualities than Wooden himself. His list of essential traits includes:
And many more. Wooden later refined this into his Pyramid of Success, a list of 17 traits that a person needs to cultivate in order to be successful. Along with this, he put together a dozen lessons in leadership, such as:
Good Values Attract Good People
Call Yourself a Teacher
It Takes 10 Hands to Make a Basket
The Carrot is Mightier than the Stick
Seek Significant Change
Don't Look at the Scoreboard
If you want to read some more from the man many people believe to be the greatest college basketball coach ever - 10 NCAA championships in 12 years while at UCLA, something nobody has matched yet - hop into Amazon.com and pick up one of these books:
Your basketball coaching philosophy is your own. It's really a philosophy on life, on how you believe we all should live our lives. But, unlike most other life philosophies, your coaching philosophy has the ability to truly impact other people, and change their lives.