Sharpen These Five Coaching Skills

None of these skills have to do with Xs and Os but all of them can lead to more victories

By Sue Phillips, head coach, Archbishop Mitty High School (San Jose, Calif.) girls team. 2018 Wilson Sporting Goods/WBCA High School National Coach of the Year

Lost in the search for the best quick hitter or stifling defensive scheme is how you develop your coaching style beyond Xs and Os. But, without the ability to lead your squad, strategies become less meaningful.
Being a leader requires a tremendous amount of work on your part. Take a look at the following five skills great coaches possess and constantly develop, then determine where you need to improve to better manage your players.

Understand the fundamental basics and deeper details of the skills you are attempting to convey by explaining, demonstrating and executing. Don’t just roll out a ball and mumble a few words. Your players have varied learning styles, so be capable of explaining concepts and fundamentals. Provide timely feedback in a way to force players to make immediate corrective measures.

Challenge and encourage players in a positive manner (rather than heaping on negative feedback) to reach new heights in training and development. Motivate with a set of rewards to achieve a better response from your players.

Find an organizational plan that works for you. Some coaches do everything digitally from communication to drawing diagrams. Others stick with phone calls and hand-drawn Xs and Os. No matter the method, make sure it is organized to pull information quickly and efficiently. Organization filters down to assistant coaches and players … as does disorganization.

Stay in constant contact with players, assistant coaches, parents, athletic administrators and school staff. This extends beyond just words but includes the language you use and the tone of the message. Regular meetings go a long way toward proper, effective communication and cultivating a positive rapport with your team.

Apply the ability to adapt on and off the court. On the court, enact a change by mixing up your philosophy or your personnel. As for off-the-court challenges, find out players’ interests outside the game of basketball to get a better handle on how to motivate. Adversity will occur during a season – respond positively and embrace change to push toward success.


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