In 21 years of coaching I have heard many great quotes, inspirational ideas, and motivational quips, but one of my favorites has to do with practice. There are three people who can't afford to have a bad practice: the head coach, the best player and the point guard.
This doesn't mean that your players will never have a bad day, but regardless of their performance, their work ethic and attitude stays the same, and they always act as leaders on the floor. Think of this in terms of the culture you create in your program. A winning culture begins with leadership; leadership begins with action and accountability.
The Head Coach
The head coach must lead the program and create an environment that encourages hard work, competitiveness and accountability. The head coach must bring passion and enthusiasm to every practice. In addition, the head coach and coaching staff must demand excellence from themselves and their players. Developing a strong culture is the key to creating a great program. Examples of strong, winning cultures in sports include the San Antonio Spurs basketball team and the New England Patriots football team. Both programs have solid head coaches who have created a culture of greatness through hard work, consistency and tradition. For a team to be successful, the coach must reinforce these values on a daily basis.
The Best Player
Making sure your best player works hard during practice is a critical aspect of your role as a coach. If your best player sets an example and plays hard at every practice, his teammates will respect him and follow his lead. If your best player pushes himself and holds himself accountable, then the rest of the team will have to raise their level of play in practice, and this will translate to the court on game day.
The Point Guard
The point guard is the extension of the coach on the floor. This player must have a great level of understanding and be able to execute what the coach wants on the court. Make sure your point guard understands his role on the team and recognizes that this may require a bigger commitment. The point guard needs to be a leader and he needs to know all of the plays, how to run the offense, and how to motivate and make his teammates better. Although it's important for all basketball players to have game awareness and understand aspects of basketball such as time, score and momentum, this is especially true for the point guard.
The coach, the best player, and the point guard on a basketball team should always work hard and constantly strive to get better. These three people must lead by example, and their consistency will influence everyone else to play hard and improve. If you want to create a winning culture in your program, start by setting the tone during practice.