Developing Your Basketball Coaching Philosophy

Developing your basketball coaching philosophy is something that every coach thinks about, and a lot of it is a work-in-progress. There are different ideas on what a coaching philosophy should be, and there are no right answers. Everybody is different, and the same can be said about everybody’s coaching philosophies.

Will coaching philosophies be similar? Absolutely. But you’ll be hard-pressed to find two coaches who share the exact same philosophies when it comes to coaching basketball.

So how do you develop your philosophy?

Your Philosophy Is What You Emphasize

It’s funny, we talk about ‘developing’ a philosophy, but it’s honestly what your program emphasizes on a day-to-day basis. You can say your coaching philosophy is to “help young men on and off the court.”

However, if those aren’t things you’re prioritizing with your players each and every day, is that really your coaching philosophy, or is it a nice cliche saying? See what we’re getting at here? Your philosophy isn’t what you say, it’s what you do and emphasize.

Basketball Program Philosophy

Your program philosophy is what you want your entire team to embody. Again, these are traits that you show your players, not just tell them. Personally – my program philosophy asks that my players and coaching staff embody these traits:

  • Care – We want to care deeply about our teammates. Not just care how many points they score or what they contribute to the basketball team, but we want to care about each other in everything we do. How are things going at home? What are grades like? What are plans after high school? How can I help you?
  • Commitment – We want everybody in our program to have 100% commitment to the basketball program. You’re either all-in or you’re all-out. I can’t stress this enough, this isn’t just saying “I’m all in.” It’s showing it.
  • Character – Players and coaches are privileged to represent their school/team across the front of their chest, and we expect everybody to do so as a high-character individual. This means simple things like saying “thank you” and “please” to strangers. We are always reminding everybody in our program that somebody is always watching. Are you representing the program positively?
  • Unity – All of us is stronger than one of us. We can’t be divided. As the saying goes, “united we stand, divided we fall.”
  • Growth-Driven mindset – We want everybody in our program to grow a passion for developing their skills through hard work and extraordinary effort. Everything presented to us is an opportunity to learn and grow.

Again, no two coaches are going to have the exact same program philosophies. We happen to emphasize the five traits above, and we do so with our actions each and every day. Will everybody always abide by your program philosophy? Probably not – but it’s up to you as the coach to continue emphasizing the standards you set for your program.

Offensive Philosophy

When we talk about a basketball coaching philosophy, we often get wrapped up in the character traits and program philosophy, but it’s important to have philosophies that you emphasize about the game, as well.

Just like a program philosophy, your philosophy about the offensive side of the ball probably isn’t going to be exactly the same as somebody else’s – and that’s perfectly fine.

What do you stress to your players when your team is on offense? That’s your offensive philosophy. For example, here’s mine:

  • Value the basketball – We stress not being careless with the basketball and valuing possessions. Will we make turnovers? Absolutely. In fact – I encourage my players to be playmakers, and with that comes turnovers. What I don’t tolerate is absolutely careless turnovers because a player wasn’t valuing the basketball.
  • Shot selection – We want our best players taking shots in places that they make them at high percentages. So many teams are deemed ‘bad’ offensive teams, and I’d bet 9 times out of 10 it’s because they have poor shot selection. It seems like something so simple, but if you’re not emphasizing what good shot selection is, how can you expect your players to know? As the saying goes, “your players don’t know what they don’t know.”
  • Attack in transition – We want to get easy buckets before the defense gets set. This means that we practice transition break, spacing on the break, and where we think defenses are vulnerable..
  • Spacing – Spacing is so vital to an offense exposing the defense, so it’s something I constantly stress. We teach what good spacing looks like (single gaps, double gaps, triple gaps) and why it makes our offense better.

Defensive Philosophy

Similar to offensive philosophy, and any other philosophy at that – you’re not going to find too many coaches that share the exact same defensive philosophies. What are you emphasizing on the defensive end? What are you focusing on in your practices?

For example, my defensive philosophy revolves around:

  • Ball pressure – We don’t want the guy handling the ball to ever be comfortable. Comfort allows players to make plays. In order to be good on-ball defenders, we must drill this frequently.
  • Trap ball screens – At the high school level, we find that most ballhandlers struggle being trapped out of ballscreens. Numerous offense are predicated on the ballscreen, so if we’re able to make them uncomfortable in their primary offense, they’ll likely struggle.
  • Communication – Communication is vital in everything we do, but we especially stress it on the defensive end. We note that there’s no more selfish act in basketball than not talking on defense. It’s vital for our defense to function as one unit.
  • Finish with a rebound – There’s nothing more demoralizing than working your tail off on defense, only to give up an offensive rebound. We stress how important it is to finish off every defensive possession with strong boxouts and a rebound.

Your basketball coaching philosophy is something that’s going to be unique to you. What do you stress? What’s important to you?

Leave us a comment and let us know what your coaching philosophy entails.

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