Basketball player driving for a layup

How to Develop a Championship Basketball Program

How to Develop a Championship Basketball Program
February 07, 2022 | Andre Harakas | 13 min read

I’ll talk about how we developed a successful basketball program at our high school and in our community. Building a college program, on the other hand, entails recruitment, fund-raising, and program marketing, among other things.

Ask yourself these questions before accepting that new head coaching position:

  • What impact will it have on my family?
  • Will the school’s administration, staff, and community rally behind me?
  • Do I have a strong desire to play the game?
  • Do I have the stamina, motivation, and good health to take on this challenge?
  • What will I get as a result of this and what does this mean for me?
  • What will I be able to provide to others as a result of this?
  • Describe my top priorities and objectives? What matters the most?
  • What is the foundation of my coaching philosophy?

These questions aren’t designed to intimidate you! We need committed coaches who are ready to guide young people in the correct direction while also teaching them how to play basketball.

Taking charge of a program

First and foremost, ensure that you have the backing of the administration. Hopefully, they see the value in what you’re trying to do for the school and its pupils.

Taking over a successful program… maybe the former, well-liked coach has just retired. You’re a newcomer to town, whether you’re a male or a female. Taking over a program like this may put you under additional pressure to succeed.

You may feel more compelled to play in a specific way… the one that has shown to be effective in this area for many years. I know of a neighboring community that used 2-3 zone defense and won the State Championship over 30 years ago. Since then, the 2-3 zone has been used every year, and I believe that if a new coach attempted to play man-to-man defense, he would be fired (not unlike the movie “Hoosiers”).

The benefit of taking over such a program is that it already has a lot in place. Talent is there, as is community pride and support, as well as a winning spirit. Players understand the value of hard work and will continue to work throughout the off-season.

Taking over a losing program… there is generally less urgency for fast success in this circumstance. However, the school and community must understand that things seldom change in a single season, and that bringing the program along would need a multi-year investment.

Having a “system” in place

We’re discussing your basketball coaching philosophy right now. What kind of game do you want to play… fast-paced, full-court pressuring, or a more methodical, slow-paced style? Or are you willing to adjust from year to year depending on your abilities?

You must have your own system, regardless of your style. This approach should be taught all the way through your program, even to junior varsity and freshmen. But don’t be too pushy. Allow your coaches to include some of their own ideas into the game.

Choosing coaches and assistants, as well as forming your organization

Hopefully, your school’s administration will let you have a big say in who coaches the junior varsity and freshman teams, as well as who your volunteer helpers are.

Surrounding yourself with excellent individuals who share your coaching philosophy and enthusiasm for the game, as well as being informed, is critical to your success. Above all, they should be devoted and eager to assist you in your endeavors. You don’t want an assistant coach who attempts to discredit you and your authority in order to keep your job, a guy like this should be sacked right away.

You are the program’s director. Tell them what you want, what you anticipate, what kind of basketball system younger kids should be taught, and so on. But don’t attempt to accomplish everything on your own. Usually, you will be able to locate willing volunteers.

Team meeting before the game

Make use of your resources and enlist the help of others. Assistants, supervisors, and statisticians are all needed. You could need the services of someone who can shoot and edit video games for you. You’ll need someone to keep track of the time and scoreboard, as well as someone to keep track of the scorebook. At games, you’ll need an announcer and someone to manage the music. Who is going to sell the pizza and popcorn? Volunteers!

Involve your middle school coaches. Meet with them before the season begins and point out some fundamental concepts that you’d want to instill in the younger children. Don’t, however, suffocate their own coaching inventiveness. Putting in a couple of your own plays and concepts is part of the joy of coaching. So don’t be overbearing and deprive them of it. In fact, if you’re open to new ideas, you could pick up a tip or two.

There will be some parents who are willing to assist. They will often assist in the coaching of young teams in your neighborhood. Meet with them and explain to them what you want the children to learn. To assist them, hold a coaching clinic. Don’t be concerned about them imparting incorrect information. Getting the kids to go to the gym and play is beneficial. If you treat these parents with respect, they will feel like they are a member of the team and will be less inclined to become your detractors.

Talent and work ethic development

Teaching foundations and having a strong work ethic are the first steps. Approximately 80% of practice time in childhood and middle school should be dedicated to studying foundations. With more time spent on team skills as children become older, the percentages alter a little. Even at the varsity level, though, we devote at least half of our practice time on basics. It is critical to use planning techniques.

Each player (and coach) owes it to the other players (and coaches) to train and play as hard as they can. Players must be willing to put in extra effort during the off-season. Players must learn the discipline to do each drill correctly in every session and compete every day in practice. Of course, this isn’t always the case… but it’s a goal to strive towards.

We begin with clinics for 2nd to 4th students (boys and girls). During the season, we teach basics in 90-minute courses every Saturday morning for six weeks. Several of our varsity players come in to assist. This is an excellent opportunity for our varsity players to “give back,” assist children, and participate in the development of the future.

The young children gain from their education and example, and there is also the issue of “hero worship.” They desire to be basketball players after seeing their idols. All of the campers get to play during halftime of a JV or varsity game, which is a lot of fun for them, their parents, and the spectators.

Individual camps, team camps, and summer camps are all essential. When the weather is great, we encourage the kids to simply get out in the driveway and practice.

Attitudes are shifting

A squad that has a history of losing expects to lose. Teams that win expect to win. When taking over a losing program, attitudes must shift… and this may be a significant challenge. Changing one’s mindset necessitates a number of factors and takes time. Losing will no longer be something to be “accepted,” but rather something to be learned from.

Timeout on the court

Players, parents, and the community must trust that things can and will change through hard effort, basic learning, and effective coaching. A devotion to the cause, belief in the “system,” commitment to the “team” (rather than the individual), and unity of purpose are all required. If you find motivational quotes useful, use them. Large or little, team or personal triumphs should be celebrated. Maintain a pleasant, enthusiastic attitude. Make yourself someone the kids like being around. Have fun with it. Everything should be competitive… games, practices, drills, and so on.

Develop pride in your school and system. Ours is known as “Rayder Pride.” It is satisfying to represent your school and neighborhood. All players are expected to show sportsmanship, respect for others, be of good character, and adhere to the regulations. We want our children to make errors, therefore we encourage them to do so.

It is necessary to dress up for games. Our varsity lads and coaches dress in khaki pants, a school sweater vest with emblem, and a white shirt and tie. It’s a privilege to put on the sweater vest. When players dress up for games, they experience a feeling of accomplishment.

Each player also receives a shooting jersey with his or her number on it. When we enter into a gym, an opposition fan has informed me that we always appear “professional.” Our girls’ varsity teams also wear skirts and polo shirts with logos.

Building a “legacy”… after you’ve had some success and a few winning seasons, you’ll want to continue to market this year after year. We speak about leaving a legacy… not just one or two exceptional teams, but exceptional teams year after year.

Former players may sometimes return to watch a game, train with us, or compete against us. They motivate and assist our athletes, instilling a feeling of pride in them. They sometimes make us chuckle and tell us tales about the time coach did this or that, and so on.


Establish tough objectives for your program, teams, and individual players. Then devise a strategy for achieving each of these objectives. These objectives will be determined by where you are in your program. Maybe not winning the state title. Maybe winning the conference. Yes, winning over 50% of your games this year and winning the conference championship next year! Whatever they are, be sure you have a goal in mind.


Rumors and suspicions are often sparked by a lack of communication. Make your feelings known to others (in general, without a lot of specifics).

As a group and one-on-one, communicate with your players. The coach-player connection is critical to the success of your program. Athletes need to know that you care about them as persons, not just as players. Maintain a policy of open doors. Meet with each player personally throughout the preseason to discuss objectives, expectations, and so on. Hold team meetings on a regular basis to address “problems.” Inquire about the opinions of the players.

Communicate with your assistants and coaches. Encourage them to share their views, but don’t be insulted if you stick to your own. You don’t want “yes guys” on your team. You want assistants who can think of new ideas while still understanding that the boss’s judgments are final, and who are prepared to back and accept your decisions.

Make contact with the administration and athletic director of your institution. Inform and enlist the help of the professors. Request that they notify you if any players fail to attend class or complete homework. A motivating speech from you, as well as a few additional sprints and lane slides, or some bench time, might assist a student’s classroom mood be revitalized.

Participate in pep rallies and student assemblies to engage the student body. Let them know how critical their contributions are to the team’s success… they are the “6th man.” However, emphasize the need of good sportsmanship.

Maintain open lines of contact with parents. Every season begins with a parent meeting, followed by a banquet at the conclusion of the season. Coaches are presented during the first meeting, and expectations, objectives, procedures, and regulations are addressed. We clarify that the one subject that cannot be discussed is playing time, since parents are seldom impartial in this area.

95% of parents are decent individuals who really care about their children. Always respect that and strive to maintain a positive relationship with them by expressing care and caring for their kid, whether or not he or she is a fantastic athlete. You might become unhappy as a result of your unhappy parents.

Keep the local community up to date. Accept any invitation to speak at a local service group. Don’t dismiss the media as a source of information. Radio commentators often request an interview before or after a game. Set aside some time for yourself. Even if you lose, keep your remarks nice and encouraging.

Television reporters may come knocking on your door as your career progresses. Carry out the interview. It’s a chance to advertise your program, school, and neighborhood. Allow them to interview a player with you if they want to. It’s a fantastic opportunity for the athlete to practice responding to questions on video, and this interview might help him get visibility, particularly if a college scholarship is a goal.

Maintain equilibrium

“Don’t let coaching become your mistress,” urged the late coach Al McGuire. Maintain a sense of balance in your life by not prioritizing basketball above your family and other obligations.

Keep in mind that students and parents in high school and middle school may not be as enthusiastic about basketball as you are. I’ve seen a rookie coach come on so forcefully and fiercely that he scared away numerous talented players, who then chose to participate in other sports. Allow them to be children and maintain a sense of balance in their life.

Advice from Dick Bennett for a Successful Program:

Make sure you’re surrounded by decent individuals.

Surround yourself with individuals who are enthusiastic about what they do.

Assemble a group of individuals who believe in serving others. “I have very little capacity to achieve something on my own,” states the “Road To Greatness,” “but if we gather together, we can accomplish much.”

Allow no one to enter and disrupt the family’s harmony, a TEAM must be developed and safeguarded.

STAMP IT!! Think about who you are and what you want to accomplish, and then double down on it!

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