Listen to 300+ podcasts by best-selling authors, published Wednesday, 4pm EST!

Coaching Basketball Tips

Read these 35 Coaching Basketball Tips tips to make your life smarter, better, faster and wiser. Each tip is approved by our Editors and created by expert writers so great we call them Gurus. LifeTips is the place to go when you need to know about Basketball tips and hundreds of other topics.

Coaching Basketball Tips has been rated 3.9 out of 5 based on 2266 ratings and 4 user reviews.

Demand Excellence

The teams that step up to the next level from average to good or good to excellent are those that DEMAND that excellence from themselves on a daily basis. Mistakes will happen, but the teams that play with a NEED to succeed are those that limit those mistakes. Demand excellence from your team every time they hit the court for practice or for game. The effort that a player makes today will pay off in the future. Everyone wants to perform well and win on game day. It is the players that have the will to prepare on a daily basis that come closer to reaching their potential.


Teach Skills, Not Just Systems

A common oversight among coaches, particularly at the developmental level, is that they spend too much time learning "plays" and not enough time learning how to play. Teams do need to have organized offenses and plays (we have tons!), but it is far more important to be able to execute the fundamentals of movement, ball-handling, dribbling, passing, and shooting than it is to know how to run through a particular offense. Teach your players the fundamentals of the game, as well as the concept of "relative motion." Help the player to understand his or her place on the court and the position of the other players relative to his or her position. A player with this understanding will know how to create proper spacing, move to get open, pass angles, play good on ball defense, and give good team defensive help.

What should I consider when developing a coaching philosophy?

Coaching Style

Your coaching style will play a huge part in determining how you implement your philosophy. Set some goals for your team. First, determine what you want your team to accomplish, and what you want them to get out of the experience. What’s most important? Winning? Getting along with each other and getting everyone equal playing time? Both? In other words, set priorities. If you’re coaching a youth level team, simply getting everyone some playing time might be your top priority. This will most likely not be the case, however, if you’re an AAU, high school, or college coach.

How do you cultivate a shared vision?

Having a Shared Vision

Once you have an understanding of what your vision is going to be, it is extremely important to have all of the people who are around you believe in your vision and help you to achieve it. Whether it be other players, coaches, family members or friends. Everyone involved must believe in your vision and take a small piece of ownership in it. You should put your vision in a written statement that is clearly understood by everyone. A vision statement helps you to stay on course and guides you when you get off track. It makes everyone involved feel proud and excited about being a part of something bigger than themselves. It requires people to stretch expectations and their performance. To reinforce your vision, you should use pictures and motivational signs. You should place them in areas where you will see them frequently. After seeing the pictures and signs frquently you will internalize the meaning of the words and images.


Be a Student of the Game

You may be a coach and a teacher, but you should never stop studying the game. Basketball is an ever-changing game, and without constantly searching for a better way, it is difficult to keep up with the latest methods and strategies. At the very least, this quest for knowledge might just reassure you that what you are doing currently is what you strongly believe in. Whether you read books and articles, research online, watch other coaches` practices, or attend clinics, your ability to learn new ideas and techniques will keep what you are doing fresh and exciting, both for you and your players.


Coaching is Teaching

A good teacher doesn't necessarily make a good coach, but you can't be a good coach without being a good teacher. Offenses and defenses don't win games, players do. The better you teach those players to maximize their potential, the better they will play. Good teachers are consistent in certain areas: they are clear in their teaching, they are demanding, yet realistic, and they are relentless in their pursuit of improvement. Apply these principles to your coaching and you will be amazed with the results.


Develop an Offensive Philosophy

Ask yourself these questions: with the type of players on the team, should you play fast or slow? Should you be inside- or outside-oriented, or maybe a combination of both? Do you want to be play-oriented, pattern-oriented, or would you like a more freelance offense?

You might want to develop a situation/reaction offense that counters your opponent's defensive strategies. A number of websites and books have diagrams of various offenses such as "Passing Game," "Swing," "Shuffle," “Princeton,” "Flex," "UCLA High Post," "Mover/Blocker," "Wheel," "Mixer," "Triangle," "Read and React," et cetera. Whatever offense you run, you must have:

1. Bust outs (ways to get open, create a lead pass, and begin the offense)

2. Multiple option entries

3. Ball reversal to a layup

4. Special plays

5. Counters

6. Inside attack

Really study the options, examine what you believe works, get your team to believe in it, teach precision, and demand excellence. Then, you are sure to be a success.

how do I develop a big man?

Patience With Your Bigs

Both for the player and the coach, a big key with big men is patience. Because of their size and the skills required, it will often take a taller youngster more time to develop then a shorter player. Those working with these taller players have to be patient and encouraging. If allowed to develop at his own pace, he may blossom into a truly outstanding player.

How do I run a zone offense?

Zone Offense - Beating the Zone

Move the basketball and move players to DISTORT THE ZONE defense. Drive gaps, adjust spacing, improve passing angles, screen the defense, skip pass, swing the ball to the other side, cut to the basket, flash into the post, or overload to shift the zone. All are great techniques in beating the zone.

How do I run a zone offense?

Zone Offense -Gap Alignment

To start your zone offense it is a good idea to get in a "GAP ALIGNMENT". Against an even front zone(2-1-2, or 2-3)get in an odd front set(1-3-1,1-2-2 or 1-4). Against an odd front zone, get in an even front set. This is to make 2 defenders think about which one should guard you. If a defender is in a direct line between you and the basket-MOVE. Basically, put players where the defense isn´t.


Up the Coaching Ladder

Too many coaches want to move up to a higher level of coaching much too quickly. Maybe a lower-level job in a good program and working with a good coach is better than having the title of "varsity assistant." Your job as an assistant coach or as a freshman or JV coach is to make the players better within the system the varsity coach has provided. Showing a united front and working in the system is the best if you want referral from your head coach, so work on doing a good job for him. Show that you are capable, and be trustworthy, loyal, and hard-working and the head coach will give you more responsibility.

Wait until you're ready. Who you are working for is of major importance. Where will you learn more? The key is to acquire, utilize, and demonstrate knowledge of the game, and then convey that eloquently and with enthusiasm in your next interview as you attempt to move up the ladder. Most of all, you need to develop tremendous people skills. A large portion of the job is outside the lines. Get prepared, and then your time will come! Good Luck!


basketball practice plan

Each team must have a basketball practice plan to successfully carry through with and perfecting the skills of each player and the team’s unity on the court. Each player will need to perfect their offensive and defensive skills to be prepared for any and all “attacks” on the court from the other team. One of the first and foremost fundamental skills which require perfecting is dribbling. Without the skills to dribble and keep your dribbling controlled and concise, you will find yourself in a bit of trouble on the court – both against the other players and the referees whom watch for illegal dribbling, carrying the ball and so on. Each player will need to learn and perfect the control they have over the ball, placement and speed of the ball as you dribble down the court to set up for a shot. You will want to practice and perfect these points while using each hand. If you are right handed your control and skills with the right hand will be easier to hone in, but don’t forget the left hand. If you are able to get as good or nearly as good skills, control and speed with your left hand as well, you will probably catch the other team unaware and it will be harder for them to defend against you. The coach will most certainly have each team member participate drills which will improve and perfect each players basketball dribbling skills.


Basketball defense drills

Basketball defense drills are an important part of the sport. Without defense the other team players will walk all over you on the court. Basketball training drills are how you become a better basketball defense player. Protect your team and the ball by practicing your basketball training drills every day. During your training drills commit, defend, guard, penetrate, get tough and keep your hands up when you shoot. One of the first drills you will want to master is the one-on-one drill, practice alternate defensive moves to guard against the multitudes of offensive plays. When playing one-on-one you will want to stay alert, keep moving and be difficult for the other team members to screen you. Defenders must maintain contact on block outs be aggressive and block every shot. When the opponent shoots and then rebounds the defender must be ready to take possession of the ball, do not allow a second or third shot. The basketball defender must should be within touching distance of the offensive player, have a low stance, keep his arms and hands close to his mid-section, keep your feet ready and stable, and be prepared to play tough man-to-man defense.


The Thrill of Victory, the Agony of Defeat

That famous line from the beginning of the legendary TV show, "Wide World of Sports," is never more applicable than it is during the NCAA tournament, March Madness. We start with sixty-five teams in a single-elimination tournament. Every game is a sudden death situation. Lose, and your season is over; win, and you move on to the next round. As Pat Riley, Hall of Fame NBA coach says, "Survive and advance."

Every game during the season cannot be evaluated, won, or lost by only the final play. Similarly, the entire season cannot be evaluated by only the final game. Only one team in the NCAA tournament goes home with a victory in their final game. That does not mean that everyone else was a failure. Teams at all levels that reach the playoffs have had tremendous seasons, and players and coaches need to be mindful of their accomplishments throughout the year, rather than their failures in the final game. Some teams that don't even win many games may have played up to their potential and can be proud of their efforts. Sure, everyone wants to win them all, so disappointment is natural. Be disappointed, and then evaluate and learn from any mistakes. Get back to work on your game and try your best to improve. Then, defeat will never be agonizing.

how do I plan a practice?

Get The MOST Of Your Court Time

If you are going to put in a new offensive play tomorrow, then at the end of practice tonight - distribute to your players a written copy to go right into their Playbook, and for them to know tomorrow. When tomorrow arrives have them walk through it.In a matter of just a couple of minutes, you are now working 3/4 speed and discussing KEY components of execution such as timing, floor spacing and the sequence of options.

Should I copy other coaches?

Coach Within Your Personality

One of the most important pieces of advice that can be offered to a new coach is to coach within your personality. Don´t try to coach like someone else or emulate someone else´s style. Be yourself. Players can sense right away when you are being "fake". You will go further if you coach in a manner that you are comfortable with.

How should I structure practices?

Competitive Practices

As often as possible, make practices competitive. Games are played to be won and lost, so the more competition you can have in practice, the more used to competition your players will be. To be battle tested your practices have to be war. Practice how you play. So practice hard.

Should I attend clinics?


A good source of coaching information is clinics. You can generally listen to a number of coaching experts at one site for a reasonable rate. If you can come away with one idea that helps your program, the clinic has been well worth it.

how can I get my players to play hard?

Bottom Line

If you are: 1) knowledgeable and organized, 2) work as hard as you expect your players to and 3) care about them as people, your players will reciprocate by playing hard and buying into your coaching philosophy.

how do I plan a practice?

Keep Things Simple

There is an old rule in coaching-KISS (Keep It Simple, Stupid). Don't try to over complicate things. Kids have a lot on their plates, the more you simplify, the more they retain.

How can I organize my basketball program?


Playbooks are a tremendous amount of work, but the pay back CANNOT BE MEASURED! Your players will truly become students of this game and it will help you to realize your team's potential by optimizing your time. You are teaching your players an incredible life lesson ,and that is simply "ORGANIZATION IS CRITICAL TO SUCCESS.

What should I consider when selecting a team?

Team Chemistry

When selecting your team, you obviously need to be concerned with talent, but also important is how those talented players are going to work together. You need to select players who will accept your philosophy and are willing to blend their talents with those of their teammates in order to win. A headstrong player who is only interested in his or her statistics can destroy a good team. Just look at Terrell Owens.

How long should practices last?

Practice Length

Practices should rarely, if ever, last longer than two hours. Players have a difficult time maintaining focus beyond that time. You will end up accomplishing less by going longer.

How long do basketball players normally practice?

Basketball Practice Duration

A typical basketball workout would be somewhere between 1.5 hours and 2.5 hours from start to finish. Consideration should be given to the age of players and the time of the season. The younger the player and the later in the season - the shorter the practice should be. As coaches, we expect our players to be on time so that we can begin on schedule. For that reason we should be respectful of players(and their parents) to be organized enough to end on time.

What should I look for when I´m scouting?


One of the most important things to know about your opponent is the players individual habits. Try to find out if a player is a shooter, passer or a driver. If they are a shooter, do they like to shoot off the pass or the dribble? If they drive, do they go left or right? Do they drive to score or to draw the defense so they can pass to an open teammate. Know these individual tendencies and you will have a better chance to defend you opponent.

How can I gain confidence in my coaching?

Have Confidence

If you are going to coach, you must have confidence in your own ability. You are unique. It is all right to borrow ideas from other, more experienced coaches, but don't just copy those ideas. Understand the philosophy behind them.

How demanding should I be?

Discipline the Player, NOT the Person

A VERY successful division one college coach uses a tactic that is very interesting. In practice, he does NOT call players by name when he is scolding/questioning them. Rather, he uses their jersey #. For example, "Come on 20, you need to set up that screen. Otherwise it´s just an exchange," Or "32, that was a bad decision. Couldn´t you see that she wasn´t open?" The idea is that when he corrects them, he doesn´t use their name. Therefore, it is not directed toward the person, it is directed toward the player. Off the court, and in situations where he is praising something that is worthy, he uses their name. He wants them to associate themselves only with positive reinforcement. Thus, you discipline the playerm but praise the person.

How demanding should I be?

Be demanding

Players will generally give you what you demand from them. Don't be afraid to push them beyond what they think they can give you. You (and they) will be surprised when you see that the results far outweigh what your team initially thought you were capable of.

How can I organize practice?

Practice Plan

A good practice should be well organized and efficient. One of the best ways to achieve this is throught the use of practice plans. Decide what you want to accomplish in your practice, how much time you will devote to each thing you want to do, then the drills you will use and how much time you will need to complete them.

how can my team become more agg?ressive


As far as teaching aggressiveness, simply make as many of the drills in practice competitive, with a winner and a loser. Then have the losers do a task, like a sprint or two, five pushups, or reward the winners by letting them get a drink first. Eventually the will to win starts to spread, and aggressiveness becomes a necessity.

How do I best use my time in coaching?


When starting out as a coach, one of the best areas that you can begin studying is time-management. There are only so many hours a day that you can put in, and coaching will demand a large number of them. Learn to budget your time and use it most efficiently.

what do I do in a lopsided game?

Lopsided Scores

A one sided game is not good for either team. The overmatched team could feel humiliated and the victor is not challenged. To make the game more challegeing, the better team could ask themselves some questions like: Did you play everybody? Did you continue to take advantage of a player or team by applying extended defensive pressure? Did you continue to run for layups off steals against a team that couldn´t run back to protect their hoop. All of the above and more are coaches decisions. I´ve seen teams use games like these to give boys/girls quality playing time (more minutes than they usually get). I´ve seen teams use games like this to work on their perimeter shooting and refuse to shoot inside the lane. I´ve seen teams NEVER press an overmatched opponent BECAUSE IT WASN´T IN THE BEST INTEREST OF ANYONE INVOLVED. Oftentimes, there is a game within a game. When it´s over, was it about dignity and respect or was it about winning at all costs?

How can I judge the effectiveness of my offense and defense?

Efficiency Ratings

A good way to show your team how effective they are being on offense and defense is with efficiency ratings. For your offensive efficiency, take the number of points you score and divide by the number of possessions you had. You can count your possessions by adding the number of shots you took with your turnovers and number of times you went to the free throw line. Anything over .85 is a good offensive rating. Likewise, take the same numbers for your opponent. This tells you your defensive efficiency. Anything under .75 is good.

What is the best way to plan drill work in practice?

Drill Time

When running drills, break your team into groups and spend no more than five minutes on a drill. You want to keep practices fast-paced and this will help. By breaking down into smaller groups, you keep everyone active and give them several repetitions in the exercise. By keeping the drill time short, you keep their interest.


How to Become a College Basketball Coach

The competition for college basketball jobs is at its peak, more and more people are interested in joining the field but the openings are low. This article presents a unique but workable 5 step approach on becoming a college basketball coach.

1. Make 100% commitment to being a basketball coach- You can’t get a coaching job if you only do it as a second job. If you don’t truly commit yourself, your goal will always remain a dream.

2. Find a mentor who will guide you- Learn from someone who has experienced the job. It helps if you were a college player, so reach out to your old coaches and teammates.

3. Understand and work the system- Irrespective of where you worked earlier, you have to understand exactly how college basketball works especially in the region you want to get hired.

4. Stay focused on your goal- It might be particularly difficult to secure a job, but you should be relentless. Keep an eye on the goal and learn how to handle rejection.

5. Dream – Plan – WORK - The most important thing to keep in mind is to keep working, work on your training skills whenever you get a chance and keep fit.

Regardless of experience or age, this system can be very beneficial to anyone who aspires to coach a college basketball team.

Not finding the advice and tips you need on this Basketball Tip Site? Request a Tip Now!

Guru Spotlight
Ray Lokar