What team am I going to coach?

It is very important that a coach takes the time to understand the team they are coaching, using the following questions as a guideline:

  • Is it a mini-basketball team? A children’s team? Is it a team made up of promising young players? Is it a first-class élite team?
  • What sort of organization does the team belong to? Is it a school team? A club team? What sort of school or club?
  • How good are the players? How long have they been playing? What is their potential?
  • Why are the players playing? For fun? To spend time with friends? To learn and get better at basketball?

The answer to each of these questions will help the coach to understand the context of the team, which will help the coach to avoid errors that can arise if the coach and players (or their parents) have different expectations for the team.

Once the coach understands the type of team they are coaching, it is important that they communicate to the team their expectations. In the context of coaching young children, this must also include communication with the parents.

A coach who is training young players has the responsibility of contributing to the players’ overall development both in sports and general terms – taking a holistic approach. The coach should not be interested only in short-term achievements.

Taking into account all of the above, coaches should decide upon general objectives for the team which reflect that particular team and those players and their particular motivations.

For example: a coach training a mini- basketball school team (ages 9-10) may consider:

  • That all players should have equal opportunity to participate in games.
  • Some of the players will never have played before; some will have been playing for a year and in general, the skill level of all players will be low.
  • Some players will have good basic movement skills (running, jumping etc.) while others will not and the level of fitness of players may vary widely.
  • The coach’s main priority will be to contribute to the development of these children as people – developing attitudes of sportsmanship and good spirits.
  • Therefore, general aims that the coach may adopt could be that:
    • the children enjoy themselves,
    • that they improve their physical development,
    • that they learn certain values (such as team work, respect for others, etc.),
    • that they work on overall improvement of basketball fundamentals (dribbling, passing, etc.).
    • success is measured by the improvement in skills (team and individual) and the execution of those skills in games.
Coaches carry out a range of tasks and are therefore required to possess a variety of competencies. Many of these competencies are developed “on the job” rather than in courses. What action any particular coach may take will depend upon the level at which the coach is coaching the team they are coaching and the club (or school) at which they are coaching.

The competencies that Coaches require can be set out as follows: 6

Set the vision and strategy

  • Understand the big picture
  • Align and govern
  • Analyse needs
  • Set the vision
  • Develop strategy

Shape the environment

  • Create action plan
  • Organise setting and personnel
  • Identify and recruit athletes, staff and resources
  • Safeguard participants
  • Develop progress markers - how success will be measured

Build relationships

  • Lead and influence
  • Manage relationships
  • Be an educator
  • Be a listener
  • Share information - help people achieve their goals rather than demand that they help you to achieve yours

Conduct practices and structure competitions

  • Guide practice
  • Use a combination of activities that allow the players to explore various techniques and activities that specifically dictate what players are to do
  • Identify and manage suitable competitions

Read and react to the field (“Game coaching”)

  • Observe
  • Make decisions and adjust
  • Record and evaluate

Learn and reflect

  • Evaluate session and programme
  • Self-reflect and self-monitor
  • Engage in professional development
  • Innovate