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Organizing a High School Basketball Program

by Lee Taft, MS, CSCS, SPC, USATF,
Performance Director, Sports Speed Etc., LLC

If there is anything that causes failure in coaching, it is lack of organization. A coach should have an organized plan for developing the entire program in which he or she reigns over. In this plan, every level of play needs to have continuity with the next level. The days of making it up as you go are gone.

If you are the head basketball coach of a high school boys or girls program you need to take a snap shot of where the program is and compare that with where you want it to be. And you need to take a snap shot often so you can see if you program is moving in the right direction. Developing a program is like growing up. There are always moving parts. Things change and you have to adapt. One year you have a group of highly motivated athletes, and the next you have to poke and prod at them to get motivated. So make no mistake, if you are the head honcho you have to work the program as hard as it is going to work you.

Let's talk about the first step in creating a program.

You have to decide on your philosophy. This philosophy has to be permeated throughout your basketball program. You have to take the time to educate all the coaches within your system as to why and how your philosophy will work. The reason you must do this is so they can stay on track throughout a season and over the years.

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The one thing I don't want you to do is feel like your philosophy has to be set in stone. It needs to have breathing room. You will learn new things and realize what doesn't work. You will discover how your athletes react and make adjustments. Your philosophy is basically a foundation to work from. All foundations have the ability to grow and adapt- so should yours.


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If you don't plan to succeed, you plan to fail. Each day should have a plan. This plan is flexible, but purposeful. You must go into a practice knowing what you want to accomplish. You must make sure your coaches do the same thing. There will be days when you will change your plan slightly, but for the most part you stick to your outline so you can assess the results. When you use the "shot in the dark" approach, you can't assess this very well.

Each year should obviously start out with evaluations of individual players, but also the program. Evaluate what is good, what needs work, what direction you want to go in, and how your athletes will be best used. It is important to get feedback from your coaching staff on how you are doing regarding helping them. I like to know what they need from me. But if you don't ask them, they will not speak out.

The evaluation process is an ongoing process. Each every day is an evaluation. Be prepared to make changes as needed.

All successful programs have a system. There should be a system for every aspect of the program. Here is a list of systems that should be in place:

  1. Pre-practice systems: who gets what ready for practice?
  2. Warm-up systems: how are they run each day? Who runs it?
  3. Practice systems: how does the practice run each day?
  4. Clean-up systems: who helps?
  5. Offensive systems: what will you implement and when?
  6. Defensive systems: what style will you play and when will you implement it?
  7. Pressing and breaking press
  8. Out of bounds offense and defense
  9. Special situations (end of game, under 5 seconds…)
  10. Specific breakdown of skills: how are you going to teach the fundamental skills of the game and what skills will you emphasize?
  11. Travel systems: who takes what on the bus?
  12. First aid supplies
  13. Nutrition: what are you going to eat and drink before during and after?
  14. How do uniforms get distributed?

As you can see there are many functions that need systems. There are many more not listed. But if you want a quality program, you have to take care of the little things as much as you have to take care of the big things.

Now you have an idea of how important organization is to building a high school basketball program. You will learn there are many more things that go into organizing a high school program, but if you start with the above aspects you will have a great head start.

Please contact me at lee@sportsspeedetc.com if you have any questions.

Contact Information:

Lee Taft, MS, CSCS, SPC, USATF, Performance Director,
Sports Speed Etc., LLC
1055 East US 36
New Castle, IN 47362
Phone 814.574.5719
Contact Lee by email.
General Information.

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