Coach's Guide: Do You Have the Right Stuff to Coach?

The truth is, coaching young basketball players can be thrilling, exciting, absorbing and downright fun. But coaching young players requires a definite sense of responsibility and maturity. Do you have the right stuff to coach kids? Before you grab a clipboard and whistle, ask yourself:

1. Patience. Remember -- you’re not coaching professional players here. They’re just kids, and they have to be given the opportunity -- and freedom -- to make mistakes. Your job as the coach is to help them learn from those mistakes. So rather than expect your players to play a flawless game, give yourself -- and them -- a break. Teach and let them learn. That approach requires a substantial amount of patience.

2. Emotional Maturity. Basketball games -- even at the lower levels -- can become heated. It’s your job to act like an adult. Somebody has to play the role of the grown-up at these games -- it might as well be you! That means keeping your temper under control at all times, giving the officials a break from your wrath, and leaving any profanity at the door -- away from the players.

3. A Knowledge of the Game. If you are going to coach, then you must have a basic knowledge of the game’s fundamentals, rules, and various offensive and defensive strategies. If you don’t -- relax. This Coach’s Guide -- and even a quick trip to the library or bookstore -- will supply you with all the resources you need.

4. Time Commitment. Don’t think for a moment that being a coach simply involves showing up for the game. To become an effective coach, you will need to organize and run practices, to keep track of playing time, provide directions to game sites and much more. The game is just one small part of your commitment.

5. A Sense of Priorities. The younger the player, the less important it is to win. At the recreational youth level, the top priority is that everyone plays -- and play a lot during the games. If players have fun at an early age, they will continue playing basketball as they move into their teenage years. The best way for them to have fun is by giving them a chance to enjoy playing in games.

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