“Step Into My Office”: A Coaches Perspective on Basketball, Business, and Life

Leadership Tips


How to Create a Winning Season by Understanding What Is Most Important

I love coaching the game of basketball because it provides opportunities to experience lessons that are not only important to creating a winning season but to creating wins in your personal life as well as business. I have had the opportunity of coaching varsity teams as well as youth teams with players who are playing for the first time.  While coaching a 7th grade girls team I was reminded of the most basic and important principles to success in basketball; Making sure everyone in your organization understands what is most important to the success of the whole organization.

There were several players on the team who were playing organized basketball for the first time and the practices leading up to the game were very challenging.  As you can imagine, the first half of the first game did not resemble the   basketball other than it was held on a basketball court.  I struggled to get their attention, make adjustments on the run, and correct common mistakes.  I couldn’t wait to get into the locker room at half time so I would have their undivided attention without the distractions of a screaming crowd and dads yelling their own set of instructions.

I started by using the chalkboard to show and explain to the girls where they should stand in order to start the offense.  I had barely scratched an X and O on the board when one of the girls raised her hand.  I asked her to hold her question until I was done explaining and then I would answer any questions.  I turned back to the board and could still see her hand held high.  I once again told her to wait and returned to my explanation.  However, her hand refused to go down.  She obviously had a pressing question that needed immediate attention.  I finally turned to her and asked ok…what is your question?  She replied, “What time does the bus pick us up”?  I was speechless and dumbfounded!

I realized right away that obviously everyone did not know what was most important to the success of the team.  I wrongfully assumed that their minds would be on the game at hand as that’s what was most important to me.  I could have cared less when or if the bus was going to pick us up. However, even though it was only half time of the game this girl was already concerned about how she would get home and therefore could not devote her energies toward what was most important to the success of the team.

I learned from that experience, and made a note in my basketball coaching planner to talk to the girls before we took the floor the rest of the season to let them know when the bus would be leaving after the game.  I also started asking the players at half time if there were any questions that were not related to the game.  It was surprising to find out what some of the players were thinking about.  However, once they had their concerns addressed they could focus on what was most important to the success of the team.  There were many reasons that we went undefeated during the season but making sure everyone knew what was most important played a major role in our success.

I challenge you to find out what it is that is holding your team back.  Address the issue or issues before wrongfully assuming that just because you know what is most important, everyone else in your organization does as well.  By getting everyone on the same page, your organization or team will become stronger and experience a winning season.

Joe is a basketball coach in Montana and corporate leadership consultant with The Leader’s Institute based out of Dallas, Texas.  His experience and insights into coaching for all levels of coaches from junior high girls to varsity boys have helped many coaches become successful.  He is also the creator of the Basketball Coaching Planner used by coaches across the country designed to create effective practice plans, game plans, film review, and scouting reports.  You can visit his website at www.coachingplanner.com