The Top Rules of Great Youth Basketball Coaching

When you think of being a coach what comes to mind? A picture of a whistle wearing hero? A meme showing the challenges of dealing with a bench full of parents? Charts and graphic representations of plays? Do you feel anticipation and exhilaration, or are you more nervous and cautious? The feelings and attitude that you have will define your coaching style. This can be best explored through examining your own personality type, learning about others, and communicating with them based on who they are.

If this sounds like a page out a business book, it sort of is. Coaching is a job. It's a job that involves interacting with a lot of different people. Masters of personality and communication will excel in this position. Some people who have a natural gift in coaching will be even better if they use these skills to their advantage.

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Rule #1) Identify Your Personality Type

There are dozens of tools out there to assess your personality type and communication style. They range from DiSC to Myers-Briggs; colors to animals. Just google “what is my personality type?” and “what is my communication style” and literally dozens of websites and tests will show up. Pick a simple approach. Any of them will do, but the more complicated the options (Myers-Briggs gets pretty complicated, while DiSC is pretty simple) the tougher it is to get a solid understanding of how your assessed personality type translates into your day to day. Once you discover what your personality type is and what this says about your communication style, you can begin to start really understanding how you are seen by others.

Rule #2) Understand How To Identify Others Personality Types and Communicate with Them

It is really important to acknowledge that every single person is unique. They are unique in who they are and their experiences. They are unique in their likes and dislikes; in their talents and skills. They are even unique in their own communication style.

As noted by LifeHack.org, “We all have our own unique way of communicating with each other. This is true in our personal lives as well as at work. We all have run into people at both work and play that we just don’t seem to get. Not only do we not hit it off with them, we honestly have a hard time understanding the point they are making. It can be very frustrating interacting with someone when it seems like we are miles apart in the understanding department. On the flip side, it’s awesome when we hit it off with people that just seem to ‘get us’. The conversation flows and there is an immediate sense of connection. There’s a reason for that.”

The reason is that your communication styles and personalities align. It's easy with these folks, but much more complicated when interacting with others. So in order to be the best possible youth sports coach you can be, you owe it to yourself to get oriented on this. You need to be able to hear and communicate with all types of people- be it parents, kids, other coaches, or even the refs.

Rule #3) Be the Coach the Parents Look For

Like it or not parents can make or break your coaching career. Whether you are paid, or a volunteer, if the parents of your kids don’t appreciate you as a coach you will soon find yourself off the court. Luckily, we’ve done a bit of recognizance and figured out what comes to mind when parents think of a good coach. Our advice? BE this coach. This comes from Moms Team, a website that is built for and tailored to sports parents:

While youth sports coaches come in all shapes and sizes, with different types of personalities, here are the ten things a parent should look for as signs of a good youth sports coach:

  1. The coach has demonstrated his/her commitment to the health, safety and development of players by becoming trained in child development, safety (first aid/CPR/use of AED, injury prevention and treatment) and in the sport he/she is coaching.

  2. The coach teaches, models and demands respectful behavior, fairness and good sportsmanship.

  3. The coach insists on proper sideline behavior by parents.

  4. The coach sets realistic, age appropriate expectations for athletes.

  5. The coach understands gender differences but avoids reinforcing culturally-based gender stereotypes.

  6. The coach is patient, stays calm and never loses his cool.

  7. The coach doesn't unnecessarily intrude on the learning process during practices and games, knows when to teach, emphasizes the positive, makes practices fun and teaches that sports are as much about having fun than about winning.

  8. The coach adjusts his coaching style to fit the individual and team. Like a good teacher, the coach gets to know his players as individuals, is sensitive to their needs, both in sports and their personal lives,understands what works and doesn't work to motivate an individual player to do his or her best, and helps them learn new skills. By being child- rather than adult-centered, he allows every player to express their individuality and realize their full potential.

  9. The coach looks for team-building opportunities. He looks for chances to help his players bond as an effective and cohesive team by, for example, holding team parties, going to high school games together as a team, team car washes, and encouraging high fives, rally caps and "dog piles."

  10. The coach is sociable, empathetic and has good communication skills.

Note point number 10. The trick with this, as described above, is that communication skills will be perceived differently by different people. That is why the biggest rule for coaching is to become a personality master- it will make you a Great Youth Basketball Coach!

Felipe Leon