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How to Teach Youth Basketball as a Coach, Trainer or Mentor

A young basketball player’s first coach can have an extremely positive impact on his or her basketball career. A good coach can help develop solid core fundamentals and a love for the game.  If this is instilled early the player will greatly benefit over the long term.

Here are some key characteristics shared by good youth basketball coaches:

They stress sportsmanship: Sportsmanship is an essential characteristic of good youth development and its essential to instill the quality at a young age. Players taught to respect the officials; their opponents and the game develop solid leadership qualities and character.  This respect for the game helps instill the concept of teamwork and the importance of being part of the greater good.  Basketball is the ultimate team game and a well coached team that focuses on sportsmanship is more inclined to share the basketball better and play better team defense.

Focus on the fundamentals: Perhaps the most important characteristic of developing solid youth basketball players is a focus on the fundamentals.  In addition to working on basic plays and defense it’s important to spend a solid amount of time in practice and in basketball camps on the core fundamentals of the game.  Player’s who learn to pass, shoot and handle the basketball at an early age will progress faster than their peers. If a player has a solid fundamental core their confidence will improve as will their game.

Be someone the players can look up to: Youngsters look to role models like their coaches and teachers for guidance on how to properly conduct oneself.  It’s vitally important for coaches to all treat the referees, parents and opposing coaches and players with the utmost respect. Being a strong role model for your team to look up to helps build the character of your players and makes it clear that they need to conduct themselves in a proper manner.

Exude Positivity: When teaching young players the game of basketball a good coach will exude positivity. Players are constantly looking for reinforcement that their efforts are being recognized and it’s important to help build their confidence. A huge part of success in life is confidence and youth coaches can help develop confidence through positive reinforcement. This does not mean that a coach should not critique players and give them tips and pointers on how to do things properly.  It’s important for coaches to master the art of properly communicating with their young players, even if there is a need to point out areas that need to be improved.

Make it simple:  Too many youth coaches watch professional basketball and feel the need to try to replicate overly complicated offensive and defensive sets. The key to success in youth basketball is to perfect simple offensive and defensive sets and then build off of that core understanding of the game. It’s important for coaches to remember that more sophisticated offensive and defensive plays doesn’t guarantee success—too much complication can often confuse players. The best coaches, even at the highest levels, will drive their team to master a few basic plays. No matter how basic the offensive plays are if you out-execute the opponent, you will be successful.

[Related: Basketball Coaching Guide] and also a player-coach guide for the multi-taskers.