How to Become a Basketball Coach

Do you ever sit and watch a basketball game and say to yourself, “that was a stupid decision, I can coach better than that guy!”? Do you find yourself thinking about game plans before a big game, or noticing how some players don’t play fundamental basketball? Have you ever thought about becoming a basketball coach?

How does one become a basketball coach? It may seem simple and it could be if you just want to coach your kid’s youth league team or your buddies’ rec league team. You will still need to know some basics of coaching and be able to get the team to listen to you and work together.

What if you want to become a basketball coach in a competitive league, high school, college, or even the NBA? Getting that kind of coaching position doesn’t just happen overnight.

There are many things you will need to learn and some steps that you will probably need to take to get into that type of position. It is definitely something that you can do, but it will take persistence and hard work.

My Personal Experience and Opinion

My personal basketball coaching experience is limited to my daughter’s youth league teams. While it was easy to get the job, probably because there is no pay and most parents don’t want the responsibility, the actual coaching is not as easy as it may seem. There are many factors that go into it and these same factors apply at higher levels as well. Try getting 12 8-year olds to do the same dribbling drill at the same time. It’s not an easy task.

It is true, that not just anyone can be a basketball coach, but it is also true that you don’t have to be a great basketball player to be a coach. In fact, some of the greatest basketball players find it very hard to coach. Have you ever wondered why Michael Jordan does not coach? Some such as Larry Bird have been successful, but it is very hard for superstar players to be successful as coaches.

The main reason is that it is very frustrating for them. They are used to using their own skills and knowledge to play to near perfection on the court, and when they can’t get other players to perform to that level, it becomes too frustrating for them.

On the other hand, take a junior varsity level player such as Frank Vogel who also served as the team manager of the Kentucky Wildcats under Rick Pitino. Vogel never played in the NBA but he worked hard, studied the game, took whatever opportunities came his way and eventually got his opportunity as head coach of the Indiana Pacers and now the head coach of the Los Angeles Lakers.

So, as you can see coaches can come from all different levels of basketball experience. So don’t be discouraged just because you weren’t Mr. Basketball in high school. You can still become a coach.

Let’s take a look at some of the skills you will need, some things you should consider and steps you can take to get you on your way to that basketball coaching career that you have always wanted.

How to Become a Basketball Coach: Skills You Will Need

There are many skills you will need to be a basketball coach, especially at the higher levels. Here are some of the big ones:

  • Leadership
  • Ability to motivate
  • Teamwork
  • People management
  • Basketball fundamentals
  • Basketball rules
  • Basketball history
  • Game management
  • Problem-solving
  • Ability to adapt

How to Become a Basketball Coach: What to Consider

If you are thinking about becoming a basketball coach at any level, here are a few things you should consider. These may change as you take your journey to become a coach, but they are things you should think about along the way.

Type of coach

Think about what type of basketball coach you want to be. What is your goal? Do you just want to coach in a rec league or do you want to become one of the 5 best coaches in the NBA?

Coaching Style

What will your coaching style be? Will you be a soft-spoken inspirational type coach? Will you be a hard-nosed coach who motivates by yelling and screaming? Or will you be somewhere in between?

Coaching or Game Strategy

What kind of basketball will you play? Will you have a great defense, a great offense, or both? Will you have a half-court team or a running team that likes to get up and down the court with fast breaks? Will you have a team that shoots lots of 3 pointers or a team that relies on inside physical play?

How to Become a Basketball Coach: Recommended Steps

As history has shown, there are many ways to become a basketball coach. The following are some recommended steps that can help you greatly.

Step 1: Study the game of basketball

This first step is a must. Study all areas of the game, including fundamentals, rules, history, playing styles, coaching styles, etc. Never assume that you know it all and never stop learning about the game of basketball.

Step 2: Get an education

While there have been many coaches that did not have a college degree, it is still advisable that you do get one. It will open the door to jobs within basketball organizations and that is how you will get your start. Your degree doesn’t even have to be in physical education. Frank Vogel got his degree in biology, now he is the coach of the Lakers.

Step 3: Pick out a role model

Pick out a coach or multiple coaches that you wish to model yourself after. Study that coach as best you can and find out what makes them successful. If it were up to me I would say all perspective coaches should study how John Wooden coached. To me, he is the greatest basketball coach ever and one of the greatest coaches in any sport.

Step 4: Get any job you can within a basketball organization

Search for and find any job you can that is related to basketball, especially something within a basketball organization. This is where you will get your start. Frank Vogel started his NBA career as the head video coordinator for the Boston Celtics.

Step 5: Make contacts

Once you have that job, make all the contacts and connections you can. This can be key. Make sure you demonstrate your basketball knowledge to them and try to never burn any bridges. You never know when you will need that equipment manager, athletic director, etc as a reference.

Step 6: Work your way up with hard work

Work, work, and work! You won’t get there without hard work, so whatever jobs you start with, put your all into it and remember that it is a stepping stone to the next level.

Step 7: Always continue to study the game

Never stop studying the game. Even if you think you know it all, you don’t. The game of basketball is always evolving and you must evolve with it. You can always learn more.

Step 8: Don’t give up

It’s not going to be easy. Coaching basketball will have its ups and downs. Use the downs to learn from your mistakes and continue to move on.

Step 9: Treat people well

In the business of coaching, you never know when you will run into or work with the same people you have worked with in the past. If you treat everyone well, they will remember that and it will really pay off in the end.

Additional Resources

As I mentioned above, one of the greatest basketball coaching role models you can choose is John Wooden. Wooden coached UCLA to 10 NCAA championships, including 6 in a row from 1967 – 1973. Coach Wooden is famous for his “Pyramid of Success”.

Be sure to click on the individual blocks of the pyramid to see the details of each. This has been widely used as a basis not only for coaching but for business. It is a really great tool, so if you really do want to be a coach, be sure to check it out.

Also Read:

Final Words

Being a basketball coach can be a lot of work and a tough hill to climb. With the right skills, the right planning, and a lot of hard work, maybe your dreams can come true. Maybe you can be the next Frank Vogel. Good luck on your journey!

Have you ever coached basketball at any level? Let us know about your coaching experiences. We’d love to hear from you, so please leave your comments if you would like.

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