By Alan Stein

As Notorious B.I.G. once said, ‘Things done changed.’

Players today are different than they were when I was growing up… and I’m not even that old. I know every generation says that… but it’s true.

One of the biggest changes to our society as a whole has been technology… more specifically the internet… and even more specifically… mobile smartphones and social media.

What does that have to do with basketball?


Basketball has always been and will always be an interpersonal activity that requires human connection and communication.

Coaching is all about building quality relationships. As they say, ‘it ain’t about the X’s and O’s… it’s about the Jimmy’s and Joe’s.’

But because of things like social media and the ‘everyone gets a trophy’ mentality, the Jimmy’s and Joe’s of 2015 are not the same as they were in 1995.

And even though we can’t stop the waves… we can all learn to surf.

Here are 22 tips for coaching today’s players…

  1. Find out how to truly connect with your players. Find out what makes them tick, what motivates them and what is the best way to coach them (in front of their peers and behind closed doors).
  2. Embrace social media and technology… it’s not going anywhere. It’s important to your players, so it needs to be important to you.
  3. Learn to speak their language (I am not referring to profanity). The top 2 ways players communicate today is through text message and social media (particularly Instagram and Twitter). Learn to use those platforms.
  4. Understand this: consistency breeds excellence – excellence breeds trust – trust breeds loyalty – loyalty builds a strong program. Be consistent with everything you do. Players won’t respect you if you don’t.
  5. Encourage this 3-step mistake policy with your players – Admit it. Fix it. Don’t repeat it! The first time it is a mistake. The second time it is a decision.
  6. Coach attitude and effort before X’s and O’s. Without proper attitude and effort the X’s and O’s don’t matter.
  7. Clearly articulate your core values, principles and each player’s role. These are non-negotiable. They make up your program’s culture.
  8. Players want to know the why behind everything. So tell them! Explain why you do what you do, why you believe what you believe, and why you expect ABC from them. The higher the perceived relevance, the higher the buy-in. And at the end of the day, a coach’s #1 job is to get buy-in from every member of the program.
  9. Social media has created an abundance of superficial ‘friends’ – make sure your players know you truly care about them (on and off the court). That you have their back.
  10. Don’t try to be ‘friends’ with your players. If you are too close to them personally you can’t hold them accountable. You should be a role model, a teacher and a mentor… but not a buddy.
  11. Players all learn differently. Make sure you can effectively teach each type of learner (audio, visual, intrapersonal).

Alan Stein

Hardwood Hustle Blog

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