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Surviving Your Second Year as a Basketball Coach

Chapter 1 - Oh John! Oh Mary! What do we do now that the season is over?

NO, NO NO!!! You can't end Star Wars II with Hans Solo being frozen and make me wait another year before I get the next installment. This is just cruel and inhumane punishment. NO, NO, NO!!!!!

Is this how you felt a week after your basketball season ended? You'd think that being grownups and big people, you'd know what to do now that you finally have some free time, but NOOOOO!! You missed the little buggers, didn't you? No more frustrating moments because someone forgot who they were guarding. No more smiles when a player did something right. Even that you could handle, but your whistle being lonely and neglected is more than you can take.

OK, so you didn't want it to end. Well, get a life cause it's over, done, fini! There is no more till next year. So just get a life, all right!!!!! Unless ...... yes, I said unless. UNLESS YOU AND YOUR WHOLE FAMILY REALLY ENJOYED IT. I'm not saying did you enjoy it. I'm saying you, your spouse, your kids, and maybe even your dog needs to have loved it. This is the only way I would even begin to recommend the next step into insanity. Is everyone really, really missing it?? Well then - - - - - -


So what is club ball? Here in St. Louis we call it select ball. In other parts of the country it's called Club Ball. Club ball is where you try to field the best possible players you can possibly put together, and you play off season ball. Most basketball goes from November to February. That means the prime season is 4 months long. So what's the flip side of this? THEY HAVE 8 MONTHS TO FORGET EVERYTHING YOU TAUGHT THEM, OR EVEN THOUGHT YOU TAUGHT THEM. Isn't that a delightful thought?

Like everything else in life, you can act or react to situations. Reacting means you let your emotional side over rule everything. Acting upon a situation means you think things out, before you make a decision.

OK, Ed, how does this apply to basketball? Or, are you off the deep end again? Before you ever decide to do club ball, I believe you need to get schizophrenic. You need to sit down beside yourself and discuss why you would even want to do club ball. You need to decide what your priorities are. Are you there just so the kids, AND YOU, can have fun? Are you there to teach your players more than the regular season allows you, due to time constraints? Why are you doing it? Here are a few reasons why you need to decide on your priorities, before you ever jump into club ball.

If you and your players are playing basketball strictly for fun, think long and hard about not doing club ball. Here is a graphic example of why not to play club ball.

A 6'5", 200 pound Monster Child gets into a fight with little Johnny. Johnny weighs 110 pounds, soaking wet. The fight is to be timed. It is to last 3 minutes, max. It starts off badly for Johnny. Within the first 60 seconds, he already has 2 black eyes and a broken hand. As you watch the fight continue, Monster Child never lets up. Even after he pummels Johnny into unconsciousness, he still keeps hitting him. You start to scream "Let up already, you've won. Quit it, you're killing him!" No matter what you say or do, Monster Child will never quit until the 3 minutes are up.

Got a little graphic on you, didn't I? Sorry, but you really need to see the big picture before you react your way into something THAT IS NOT GOOD.

Club teams can be exact replicas of Monster Child. They are normally coached by power hungry, ego-driven, monsters. They want to beat every team by 50 points or more. They recruit the best talent they can find, and nothing is more important than the win. They don't just care about winning, they also care about how large a margin they can beat you by. Not every club team is like this, but there are enough of them, that it sure seems like it!

If you have an average old team and are doing it for fun, avoid club ball. Your players can lose a lot more than just a game. They can lose their self confidence and start thinking of themselves as true losers. Once you believe something at a young age, it's hard to reverse that belief. Sometimes it's nigh onto impossible to change your image of yourself.

Kids are strange critters! Once they lose their confidence, they might rebound tomorrow, or they may never rebound. Being beat by a merciless club team by a score of 60 to 2, might crush a kid. I have seen great kids with a lot of potential quit the game because of beatings like this. They started the game with a smile. At the end of the game, their looks and demeanor said, "I'm no good. I suck! I hate this game and I'm never going to play it again."

For an average or below team, club ball is not a Good Thing. Rather than play club ball, find an average ole summer league where you and your kids find similarly competitive teams and have a blast.


Now let's look at the other side of club ball. My team will be going into 9th grade next fall. We have played club ball since 5th grade. Are we God's gift to the basketball community? Absolutely not! We win a lot, we lose a lot. Priorities is what this decision is all about. I made up my mind when they were in 5th grade what my priorities as their coach should be. My job was to teach them enough, so that a player who wanted to, would know enough and be good enough to make their high school team.

By playing club ball, my girls became accustomed to playing the biggest and best players in the city. For one of my 5'8" forwards to have to guard a 6'3" center, is just no big deal. No one intimidates them because they're used to it. Take an average recreational league player, and see what happens when they have to play against that same 6'3" center. They freak out to say the least.

By playing club ball, they have learned to become better players themselves. Ever hear of the process known as osmosis? I can teach my girls a lot. But when they see a really nice player do a new move, they try to imitate, and they have learned a lot from simply playing against better players. My girls would not be half the player they are today, if we had stayed in a rec league. So if your priority is to teach your players the game, then club ball may be for you.


"But these are just kids. If they play club ball, won't that interfere with their other sports?" I've heard this 100 times in the last few years. Guess what? Unless your kid is the exception to every rule, it's now a one letter, maximum 2 letter, universe.

I have listened to coaches argue this point for hours. What it boils down to is this: If you live in a small town, there is a good chance you can play 3 sports and make your high school team. If you live in a large city, it's nigh onto impossible. What these coaches are really arguing about is the way they would like it to be.

I live in St. Louis and am going to use my town as the example. Girls start playing select basketball in 4th grade. A non-select season lasts 4 months. Select teams will play 11 months a year, or 7 more months than a non-select player. Between what they learn in the extra 7 months from their coach, and the extra experience they gain just from playing more, a select player has a much better chance of making their high school team, than a non-select player. This same scenerio exists in soccer, volleyball, and in baseball/softball.

When you hear someone arguing about kids shouldn't have to decide what sports to "major" in at such a young age, you are hearing wishful thinking. I wish the same thing as they do. I wish that in 5th grade my daughter could have played 3 or 4 different sports, and taken her time figuring out which ONES were for her. If she had spent equal time on every sport, and had done this up until 7th or 8th grade, she would never have made any of her high school teams. If you snooze, you lose!


As I said in the beginning it's time for you to make another major decision, what are your priorities as a coach? And, you also need to know what your players priorities are. You may not be into select or club ball. You are coaching for the fun of it, and not worrying about your player's future high school team, but what if some of your players want to make their high school team when they get old enough? If this is the case, help them find an off-season team to join. Don't agree to coach off season unless you really want to. You either are hooked on the game, or you're not. It's time for you o make an honest decision on what your goals are as a coach. Then decide on club ball.


You know the saying, "Boy, is he out in left field!" Folks, I bought stock in left field, so I have to go there occasionally. This is one of those times. You know how you get an idea in your head, and if you don't do something about it right then, you know you'll forget it later? And when you do forget it, you remember just enough to honestly believe that the one true original, money making thought that will change mankind and your life forever, just escaped you.That's where this next paragraph is coming from.

We all have images of things. Some of you are probably imagining us sitting in our coaches shorts, whistles around our necks, with a diagram of a basketball court in front of us, while we type this out on our keyboards. ** WRONG ** I am sitting in my kitchen, chain smoking, and thinking that an Absolute and tonic sure would sound good about now. Blew your image of me, didn't I? Actually, I'm not drinking the Absolute because I don't like to drink at home. If I drink, it's at a pub or a restaurant.

Now, the really fun part is have you ever wondered how the author imagined the readers of his book? I can see you now. You have just decided to coach club ball and you jump up from your monitor. On your computer desk is a plaque from your players that reads, "To The World's Best Coach." On your fireplace is a trophy that your team won for coming in 2nd or 3rd in a tournament. And you are more proud of that plaque and trophy than anything that you ever won at work. I like my image of you folks, so please don't ever tell me I'm wrong, OK? I like people whose hearts are in the right place.

ANYWAY, you jump up and yell, "I'm gonna do it. Club ball is for me!" I can see you guys in your tight old fashioned basketball shorts, and they are too short. You have long knee-high socks, (the ones with 3 red stripes at the top and go all the way up your leg to right below your kneecaps,) brand new Nikes on, and an old fashioned he-man shirt on, and your beer gut is hanging out.

I can see the women who read this. You women aren't as out of touch with the fashion world, as are your male counterparts. You have on a matching nylon/polyester sweat suit. You know, the one's that go - swish, swish, swash as you walk. They make that crinkly, aluminum foil sound as you walk. The older women have embroidered stuff on the shoulders and top of the sweat suit. The younger of you just have some sports logo on yours.

None of the above was meant as an insult. Sometimes I just have to go out into left field, just for the fun of it. Anywho - You are ready, when you realize you are at home and don't know what to do next. So you sit back down in front of your monitor and keep on reading. That brings us to ...


  1. The first way is so simple, just take the kids who were on your regular team.
  2. If there are some kids from your team that you don't want on your club team, just don't invite them. Don't make a big production out of it. No 20 minute speeches on why you didn't invite them. Just keep your mouth shut and don't invite them. When they find out, just tell them what the real reason is and again, don't make it long and drawn out.
  3. Have tryouts. I went into this a lot in my first book. I'm going to give you 3 simple rules for club ball. Get some heigth. Take ball handlers over shooters who can't dribble. (It's easy to teach the ball handlers how to shoot.) And don't take anyone who is not coachable. (Superstars with an attitude are cancerous and will kill a team.)
  4. Remember, for you more experienced coaches, this is for younger kids. Simple is Good! We don't want to get too complicated. If you have a team with kids that can handle a ball, have some heigth, and are coachable, what else do you really need at this age?

Alright, you win! You want some drills for your tryouts, so here you go:

  1. Have them do a suicide while dribbling the ball right handed. Then have them do one while dribbling left handed. This will show you about their agility, speed, ball handling, and endurance.
  2. Have them play a 3-on-3 game. This shows you ball handling, whether they are a team player, whether they have court vision, and can they shoot.
  3. Have them play a no dribble scrimmage. This let's you see if they can move without the ball. It also shows you their passing abilities, and court vision.

This is all you really need for this age. I presently coach 8th grade girls and needed several players. For the tryouts, I had them do #1 and #2, and that's it.

All this seems too simple, right? Well, there is a small catch to it. If you are interested in a player after they pass your tryouts, tell them they are invited to 2 or 3 of your L.S.'s. No final decision will be made until then. Get them to your L.S.'s so you can find out if they are coachable.

Here's why I suggest this. I am coaching my daughter's 8th grade team. As I told you before, we are a club or select team. There is a girl who is a young 9th grader that wanted to join our team and she was about the same age as my girls. Her resume was great, she was awarded the mvp of her freshman team. I have an mpv 9th grader trying out for my 8th grade team, seems like everything is right in the world, right?

I accepted this girl on the team on a temporary basis, until I saw how she played in a game. Folks, this girl never learned anything about m-2-m defense. Sure, she had a sweet little shot, but that's all she had. Whoever was her previous coach had neglected passing and defense. This made me thank the day that I decided not to take a player until she had played with us for a while.

I will take a coachable average kid over a superstar with an attitude every time. If they pass your tryouts and are coachable, sign them up. And speaking of signing them up, get everyone of them to sign a contract. This will help you avoid 90% of all of your future problems. You will find a sample contract in Book 1.


In book 1, I spent a lot of time giving you the info on how to do this. So if you have forgotten, go back to Book 1.


Again, I spent a lot of time on this in my first book. The basics are all there. What I am going to add here is a few website addresses that might offer you tournaments in your area.

www.worldofsports.com and then go to tournaments on the left side of the page.

Call 1-800-aau-4usa and this puts you in touch with your local AAU office and then just quiz them.

This gives you what you need to start your first club team, so I'm going to end this chapter the same way I began it. You need to decide what your priorities are, before you ever decide whether to start your own club or select team. Your team is going to follow your direction - make sure you have a positive direction for them to follow.

This booklet is a work in process. This means that as I have more chapters, I will post them one at a time. So keep on coming back to this website, because there will be more.

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