March Madness Extravaganza

3 Commitments Every Successful Basketball Team Must Make

In a previous post, we mentioned the importance of visioneering and highlighted this quote by Antoine de Saint-Exupery:

If you want to build a ship, don’t herd people together to collect wood and don’t assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea.

Every great endeavor begins with a vision of something greater than yourself, but until it’s shared and internalized by the team, it will get no traction. So, as a coach, you are responsible to create (or at least mold) your team’s vision. You are the captain of that ship after all.

You can develop a successful vision for your basketball team by making three commitments:

Commit to the Art

Coaching is an art and you have to embrace it as such. Anyone can learn a skill and teach it. Anyone can put in an offense. Anyone can fill out the book and shake a ref’s hand. But, coaching is something completely different. A coach understands that there are no little things: it all counts, each basketball drill in practice, each substitution, each decision. Coach like your an artist… because you are.

Commit to the Brand

Your team should have an identity that it embraces and respects. It probably already has a name and a logo, you need to develop a culture to go along with it. It matters little what that brand is – it will depend on your philosophy and your players. And, every player, parent, and coach should be able to recite your brand message, your tagline.

Since everything matters (see first point), part of the art is designing practices, meetings, events that all point to that brand. That brand is who you are as a team and everything you do should further develop that message.

Commit to the Culture

You must intentionally create a culture for your team otherwise a default culture will just naturally wander into view (and, you may not like those wandering cultures). There are many traits of a good team culture. Here are a few:

  • Players must be accountable to the team, the organization/school, and the coaches.
  • Players must be unconditionally bought in. Players who are engaged only when they are playing well, getting enough playing time, or scoring their desired amount of points are not bought in.
  • Hard work must be engaged, not avoided.
  • Discipline must be a pervasive trait amongst the players, coaches, trainers, parents, and anyone else associated with the program.

Each of these commitments is a plank in your team’s ship. Once it’s built, will it be something you’re proud of or something you make excuses for? You are building regardless, so you might as well build a ship that can train young men and women to build their own ships of vision, discipline, resolve, and commitment. That’s what coaching is all about anyway.

Once you build that ship, the wins will take care of themselves.

6 comments

  1. Great article and so very true!

  2. This may be my favorite post yet. A must read for any coach interested in the Read & React.

  3. Great piece Rick! Love it!

  4. I really liked this post and I must admit I agree in every single one of these three commitments. Even though my age is not near being enough to master the aspects of basketball and/or coaching, I would like to give my opinion on “gaining a player” or as you mentioned in the post “buying him in” by explaining two of my performances in two different teams this year as a player. The first one was with the club I had been playing for last two years. Unfortunately, I had injured my left ACL during off-season trainings. Doctors told me that I had to stop playing basketball for at least one or two months to get better. So, I talked with the coach and he gave me an open check and allowed me to rest as much as I needed for my recovery. I came back within 5 weeks but by the time I came back, the same coach didn’t allow me to train with the team and sent me to the lower league to play with kids that were less older than me at least one or two years. It was a big shock for me and I couldn’t play as I knew I used to (only 8 points in total of two games). But it wasn’t because of my knee injury, it was because of my motivation. I was willing to work hard for my real team and do whatever it takes to win, even with an injured knee, but coach didn’t allow me. I left the club and went back to the high school team, where I met school’s new basketball coach Baris. He accepted and respected me as a player. Before and after trainings, we would discuss our tactics together, he would ask me about my school, my life and he would actually listen. Maybe he was wrong about caring me more than as a “player” and talking with me about different topics than basketball, but it was useful. I had my best season in my career, even though I had started with an injury, I managed to do incredible statistics (28 points, 14 rebounds, 4.2 assists, 3.2 steals per game) and received the MVP award at the end of the year. I did play well because I knew my coach trusted me no matter what. In one training before an important game, he told me in front of the team “Tomorrow Ahmet, don’t hesitate to shoot 3 pointers because I know that even if you miss your first two shots, you will make the other 4.) That game, I shot 4 3pointers only in the second quarter (all in address).
    My point here is that a coaches actions to a player can change everything and I believe it is a coaches responsibility to buy players and give them the opportunity to show their talents on the court. I could have spent a whole season as nothing. But my high school coach changed me and my play. Next year, when I will be his assistant in junior league matches, I will try to do the same thing to the players as he did to me, gain them no matter what it takes.

  5. Really enjoyed the piece, I think many teams fall short in the branding category. We built this infgraphic to help young players make the team…hope it helps: http://www.austinyouthbasketball.com/2013/10/19/austin-basketball-tryouts-make-the-cut-infographic/

  6. Great post for the new year!….time to refocus

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