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What is a good playing and coaching style to develop players?

 Pic:   x's and o's don't matter much when you are developing juniors.  Teach "HOW" to play not "WHAT" to play!!!!

Before I start i want to acknowledge my State Assistant Coaches for 2016.  This year my state team had phenomenal Assistant Coaches in Jason Joynes, Helder Borges, Ryan Vivian.  Could not have been a better group of men to coach with.  I am lucky that Basketball SA  had the insight to assign these guys to me - many others I would struggle to work with.  They instinctively understood how to develop a style of game and coaching style to develop players.  Many others just do not get it, never will, and I learned a lot from these guys to add value to it.  I will probably blog on these guys down the track and their traits that made them great men for me to work with.

In the past few months I have had some young coaches ask me for advice.  Mostly they want to know x’s and o’s and I tell them they have come to the wrong man, but if you want to talk about how to develop players, let me know, then we can talk.

When you are willing to take risks, allow risks, you build supreme confidence in players, the players have a vision for their future and you teach them HOW to play, not WHAT to play that is how you develop.  Ultimately I want to develop outstanding talent but those guys need to recognize how important playing in successful teams and making their team mates better will ultimately help them succeed as individuals too.


You must be a scorer!  You must be a dynamic scorer!  You must be able to score over, around, through your man.

You must be versatile.  You must be able to shoot the ball and get on the rim.  I don't care about your size but you need to find a way to score in the paint!

You must be able to defend every single position.

Coaches!  Roll the dice, try it sometime, see what happens.  When it is not about you it is easy because mistakes and losses don’t matter much, only development.

A report extract (PC edited)

This is an extract (slightly edited for PC reasons) of a report I did on a team I coached.....

Our program key differentiators to other teams were:

  • Selected players with upside, rather than now.  In the past coaches selected players that minimised risk of failure instead of players with upside that could be developed.  We played players in positions and roles for their future, to enhance their chances to get to the next level, rather than to succeed in the tournament. 

  • Intrinsic motivational factors through goal setting as individuals, as well as a team.  We took player goals, got to know their goals and made this part of our conversations with them, showing we cared about them as individuals.  We took the approach of guiding our athletes on their journey and intrinsically motivating them, rather than extrinsically motivate them with threats, penalties and berating them.  I feel that our team was highly motivated to achieve their best, which helped them overcome some significant adversity due to injuries and work incredibly hard to get better throughout the process.  Our trainings and their efforts were outstanding!

  • A system that lets talent come to the fore, instead of holding it back and controlling kids to the point where they have described their past experience with words such as “I felt like I was in a cage when I played, but that is not how I felt in your team”.  I feel that players in our group in almost every case felt freedom to play and enjoyed their experience greatly.

  • We utilised Stephen R. Covey’s concept of investing into emotional bank accounts.  Building relationships and leading rather than micromanaging.  Coaches were required to build interpersonal relationship with players.  We coached them hard through open, honest feedback but this built players up as they knew we working for them, not against them. We eliminated the them/us mentality that exists in other programs.    Players wanted to play for the coaches and each other, and had great, open, honest relationships with each other.

  • Teaching players “how to play” rather than “what to play”.  In some other teams systems are rigid and highly structured, easily scoutable and normally were.  Our systems were free flowing and developed abilities for players to make reads and think for themselves.


Coaches; google and learn about what "Fake Fundamentals" are.....

The main training habits I insist on:

  • Play fast, do not think.  Do not pause in between reps do not move slowly, move with a purpose but be quick.  I rarely get angry at trainings.  However, if guys do not move quickly between drill reps you will get yelled at.  There is no need to think!  You don't have to think!  If you need  thinking time between reps get off the court and go to the classroom!

  • Be a scorer not a passer.  Too many guys are not looking to break down their man off the bounce, they come off onballs as a passer, making them and their team mates ineffective.  I want guys to have the mindset that if it is one on one they can score on their man, around their man, through their man anytime and anywhere.  This is important.

  • Defend like a crazy guy.  Do not over think how you defend.  Need to just disrupt, need to make things happen, back yourself to take risks and be good enough so those risks payoff - if you can defend the hell out of it, you can follow the scout later on.

Every drill has a learning phase and a competitive phase.   Every player has to move quickly and COMPETE- make each other better.  Every player has to show they care with body language and MOVING QUICKLY between their reps.


Coaches, put your own glory aside – wins/losses do not matter unless you are getting paid, which we are not.  Develop talent for future, beyond your team, and enjoy that, it is worth more than money!!!

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