Alan Stein
By Alan Stein

I am eternally thankful to have learned from (and continue to learn from) so many great coaches. I am honored to be a part of the coaching fraternity.  Being a great coach takes the commitment to ‘work on your craft’ every day.   Below is a list of the 61 traits that great coaches model every day… on and off the court.

  1. Great coaches promote shared ownership and internal leadership. They create a ‘team’ attitude.
  2. Great coaches have their players keep a notebook with plays, motivational quotes, and facts about the program’s history.
  3. Great coaches are teachers at their most fundamental level.  They teach basketball; they teach life lessons.
  4. Great coaches love the game; respect the game.
  5. Great coaches work on their craft every day. They work on the X’s & O’s, strategy as well as on leadership.
  6. Great coaches establish roles on the team.  They clearly define these roles to everyone in the program.
  7. Great coaches objectively analyze a player’s strengths & weaknesses and find ways to utilize their strengths and minimize their weaknesses.
  8. Great coaches have high character.  They know they are in the business of leading by example and developing young men & women for life.
  9. Great coaches praise the behavior they want to see repeated and discipline the behavior the want to see eliminated.
  10. Great coaches don’t have ‘favorites.’ They care about all of their players and are objective when deciding roles and playing time.
  11. Great coaches treat every player fairly, but not equally. They know some players ‘need’ more than others.
  12. Great coaches get everyone on the team to accept their role and fulfill it to the best of their ability.
  13. Great coaches are always prepared. They study film, scouting reports, and design practice plans accordingly.
  14. Great coaches listen to their assistant coaches and to their players.  They don’t feel threatened and they welcome suggestions.
  15. Great coaches don’t over coach. They don’t talk to hear themselves talk; they talk to make a point, to teach, and to motivate.
  16. Great coaches coach in ‘bullet points’ during practice – they keep the action flowing! They keep instructions short and sweet.
  17. Great coaches coach players; not plays. They want players that know how to play the game, not just how to run a play.
  18. Great coaches know that basketball isn’t just about offense and defense. It’s also about effort and execution.
  19. Great coaches pay attention to detail. They know that everything regarding their program is important. Everything makes a difference.
  20. Great coaches make sure everything done in practice has a purpose. Every drill has value.
  21. Great coaches delegate to their assistant coaches and let them share the responsibility (and joy) of running a team.
  22. Great coaches compliment their players and assistants often and with sincerity (but only when deserved; not to ‘blow smoke’).
  23. Great coaches are the hardest workers in their program. They set the tone. They don’t let any player/coach outwork them.
  24. Great coaches are a spark of energy and enthusiasm.  They raise the level of everyone in their program, every day.
  25. Great coaches are mentally tough. They don’t get flustered.  They know their mental toughness trickles down to the entire program.
  26. Great coaches challenge their players and assistants… every day!  They don’t allow complacency.
  27. Great coaches are the face of their program. They welcome this and represent with pride and class.
  28. Great coaches have a clear, precise vision of what they want their team to become and accomplish.
  29. Great coaches learn what motivates each player on the team.  They find ways to light each player’s internal fire.
  30. Great coaches give trust and respect… and by doing so they earn trust and respect from everyone in their program.
  31. Great coaches are 100%, absolutely, positively committed to their team in every way possible.
  32. Great coaches create standards of excellence and hold their players and staff accountable.
  33. Great coaches know that you can’t win every game… but you can prepare (and try) to win every game.
  34. Great coaches set realistic, attainable goals and get everyone in the program to buy in and achieve them.
  35. Great coaches admit when they are wrong or make a mistake.  They are humble.
  36. Great coaches love to coach and have fun coaching… it is who they are!
  37. Great coaches are confident without being arrogant.  They believe in their team and in their preparation; but never assume they will win.
  38. Great coaches don’t worry so much about what their opponent is going to do; but instead focuses more on what their team is going to do.
  39. Great coaches know ‘it ain’t about me; it’s about them’ (referring to their players).
  40. Great coaches don’t coach for money or fame.  They may achieve money and fame; but that is not why they coach.
  41. Great coaches constantly make adjustments. They go into every practice and game with a plan and then adjust accordingly.
  42. Great coaches criticize the behavior or the play; not the person.  It’s never personal.
  43. Great coaches will help a player they coached decades ago.  Every former player is a part of their team.
  44. Great coaches lead by example and are excellent role models in every since of the word; on and off the court.
  45. Great coaches coach the players on their team they way they would want someone to coach their own son or daughter.
  46. Great coaches teach the fundamentals of the game… even at the highest of levels.
  47. Great coaches are active during practice and games. They don’t stand in one spot with their arms folded. They are fully engaged!
  48. Great coaches are authentic to who they are and to their own personality. They don’t try to coach like someone else.
  49. Great coaches are lifelong learners and true students of the game.  They read, watch, and listen to anything that will help them get better.
  50. Great coaches coach what they know and what works for their program.  They seek to learn what they don’t know.
  51. Great coaches know ‘it ain’t what I say that matters… it’s what they hear ’ (referring to their players).
  52. Great coaches listen for things they don’t want to hear and look for things they don’t want to see.
  53. Great coaches coach their current team to the best of their ability. They aren’t ever looking ahead to next year.
  54. Great coaches don’t allow themselves, their staff, or their players to get satisfied… no matter how successful they are.
  55. Great coaches call each player by name within the first 15 minutes of every practice.
  56. Great coaches know they get what they emphasize. They make sure they emphasize the right things!
  57. Great coaches impact and influence lives far behind the game of basketball. Basketball just happens to be their vehicle.
  58. Great coaches promote communication, toughness, and competitiveness in addition to fundamentals, X’s & O’s, and game strategy.
  59. Great coaches get the absolute maximum out of every player on their team and every assistant on their staff.
  60. Great coaches are innovators. They don’t just do things because ‘that’s how they’ve always been done.’ They create!
  61. Great coaches use basketball to create lifelong memories; on and off the court.
Are you up for the challenge? Are you ready to start being a great coach?

Alan Stein
Hardwood Hustle Blog


Watch Alan at the 2012 Basketball Manitoba Super Coaches Clinic...

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