5 Basketball Coaching Philosophies

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The Top 5 Basketball Coaching Philosophies


Written By Lamar Hull @ Google+

basketball coaching philosophy

Basketball Coaching Philosophies

Are you coaching basketball, whether it is youth basketball, high school basketball or just for fun?

If you said yes to this question, then my next question is what is your coaching philosophy?

Whether you are coaching youth, collegiate, or professional players, you will develop your own basketball philosophy so that you can motivate your players on your team. After all, you must know that not one coaching style is going to work in every situation and every new player that comes onto your team is likely going to require you to adapt to the talent he or she has on the court. Here is a look at some of those basketball coaching philosophies and how you can implement them with your team and your practice plan. Keep in mind that your team may change over time, which will require you to adapt as well. But if you’re able to do so, you’re going to give your team a chance to be winners on and off the court.


#1 Fundamental Philosophy

Whether it’s LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, Kevin Durant or any other NBA superstar, they all played youth basketball at some point. For parents and coaches, basketball leagues are great to keep your kid active and interested in teamwork and sports. The fundamental coaching philosophy consists of teaching basic basketball fundamentals such as shooting, dribbling, passing, rebounding and etc. If your players learn and understand the proper shooting fundamentals, your team will be a good shooting team no matter what offense you run. The fundamentals of shooting include proper footwork, position, follow-through, and so on. This coaching philosophy is for coaches who have a younger team and loves “attention to detail” and also understands that the little things count.

Here are some vital tips when utilizing the fundamental coaching philosophy:

  • As a coach, it’s vital that you are able to teach the right fundamentals that will last with players for their remainder of their playing careers.
  • It’s also vital as a coach that you are able to be yourself while teaching kids valuable lessons.

For children who are just lacing up their shoes for the first time, they may not be interested in scoring in double digits or even winning championships. And as hard as it may be for you to deal with that, at the fundamental level it is valuable philosophy to be able to implement.

basketball coaching philosophy takeaway

#2 Autocratic Philosophy

As children get a bit older, the assertion and required passion will shift from fundamentals to a desire to win and demonstrate a difference in talent levels. This is where you can utilize the autocratic basketball coaching philosophy and can excel. These types of coaches make the decisions for their team and demonstrate a tough-love type of atmosphere in practice and during games. Players may not completely understand the passion that comes at this time, but as they get older they’ll quickly learn the importance and methodology that their coaches put into place. I remember my middle school coach adopted this coaching philosophy and was my best friend off the court, but wasn’t on the court. That is how he showed his assertion and made sure we competed and prepared to play as a team at a high level.

coaching philosophy takeaway

#3 Democratic and Goal Oriented Philosophy

Democratic and goal oriented basketball coaching philosophies are often found within teams that may not have a superstar, but rather a complete team that can come together and be there best. You have seen the stories and heard of teams that were able to upset the much more talented opposing teams. Well this wouldn’t have been possible without teamwork and a goal to drive to. Coaches who implement these specific type of philosophies put an emphasis on letting the team run itself and the players making the best decisions for the team. In doing so, the main goal is to win games and achieve greater success. That doesn’t always mean that only a championship is the way of judging a successful season, but rather building as an individual on and off the court.

In high school, I played a team called Mount Airy and they never had a star basketball player but would always beat us. We were the athletic kids playing against the non-athletic kids! They ran a Princeton style offense and would beat us every time. You could tell that they were a team and they were fine with passing the basketball around a 1,000 times before shooting. This wore our defense down and they would eventually score on us. Their goal was to play fundamental basketball, not compete from an athletic stand point and out smart us on the basketball court.

teamwork beats talent

basketball philosophy takeaway

#4 Aggressive Philosophy

As players get older and certain individuals separate themselves from the rest of the talent pool, it can be difficult for a coach to keep everyone on the team together. This is especially apparent at the collegiate level when some players are only there with the intentions of catapulting themselves into the NBA. When this becomes the case, aggressive basketball coaching philosophies are seen by many of the best college coaches in the world. Whether it’s Tom Izzo, Bill Self or even Bob Knight, they all have a bit of edge to them that really makes their teams work harder and gets them motivated. These coaches are known for sticking up for their teams and pointing their aggression at referees, especially since they know that they have certain talent on their team that is there only to make it to the NBA. In addition, these types of coaches have to manage different types of egos. An aggressive basketball coaching philosophy allows for coaches to hold control of the team, while still maximizing the talent they have on the team.

Three reasons to be considerate when utilizing the Aggressive Coaching Philosophy:

1. Coach Mike Rice was fired from Rutgers University

2. Anger and aggression is just not as effective with kids today

3. Hurt players confidence and their interest in the game

As a coach, you have to be smart on how you use aggression as a coaching style. Any aggression should have a positive reinforcement. Be constructive not critical!

philosophies takeaway

#5 Humanistic Philosophy

If you ever become a professional basketball coach or are a current professional basketball coach, you will always wonder why it is so hard to control players in the same way. After all, asking players to run a set of suicides can seem to be a bit overdone when they are getting paid millions of dollars to show up. Instead, great coaches like Phil Jackson and Gregg Popovich have shown that a humanistic approach, which is where they implement a plan and let the players carry it out, can be incredibly successful at this level. A humanistic approach varies in success, considering some players get paid and their production drops off. But when done the right way, it can be the most successful coaching philosophy around individuals who get paid extremely large amounts of money to play a game for a living.

basketball takeaway



If you want to become a good coach, you will first have to develop a coaching philosophy that fits your personality and teaching method.

Each coach has their own way of running their team. However, a lot of this has to do with the age level and the talent that makes up the team. With the philosophies outlined here, coaches have a better idea of what may be best to try with their team and how they can get the most success out of their players.

Whatever your coaching style is, coach and teach with passion!

What coaching philosophy do you use to coach your basketball team?

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