Coaching Tips from a B1G Assistant Coach (Part 2)

By Adam Barnes

The following comes from former D-League Assistant Coach and current Nebraska Assistant Coach Phil Beckner. Phil is a great young Coach and someone I trust very much. He has coached several players that I have worked with and continues to do amazing work with Damian Lillard of the Portland Trailblazers.

Several years ago, while he was coaching at Weber State, I had the opportunity to hear him speak about the things he has learned while coaching at the college level. These are broken into six sections: Coaching, Team, Players, Recruiting, Shooting, and Basketball. We have already covered the “Coaching” section (CLICK HERE TO READ IT); now, we will share the following sections: Team, Players, Recruiting, and Shooting. Here you go, enjoy!


  • Toughness is one of the most underrated characteristics of good teams! You need speed, talent, athleticism, and skill but toughness gets you through the year
  • Winning plays show true toughness of your team, and really do WIN GAMES
  • Teams that win on the road have a “Tough, Together, and Aggressive Mindset”
  • Make sure your best players are your hardest workers, best leaders, the other players follow their example
  • Your team leader doesn’t have to be the most energetic, or out spoken person, but he has to be the most competitive, and constantly leading by his example. Ex: Jason Kidd
  • Your two best players have to be “Buy In” guys. Get them to buy in and believe what you and your program is all about…toughness, togetherness, sharing the basketball, competitiveness. All the other players will follow if they do!
  • Your team can only play one game at a time and win one game at a time…especially at the end of the year when standings are close, or in the playoffs/tournaments, only goal is “Win your next game”


  • It’s more important to have your players mind right than their legs on back to back nights
  • Players like Gatorade/waters/granola bars/fruit try to keep them healthy
  • Players want to be pushed, they will take having their butt chewed when you’re telling them how good they can become
  • Players are around each other all the time (practice, class, road trips, roommates) they have to like each other and respect each other
  • Players love hearing about the “next level” study, and research what the great players do and have info, articles, examples for them. This helps get your point across.
  • Players look at the other team’s stats, standings, and schedules more than you think. Keep them focused on their standings, their schedule, and their performance …“There is not enough time to worry about what you can’t control”


  • Do not trust anybody…everyone wants players!
  • Recruit high character kids…bad kids will be bad kids
  • Don’t take a player you can’t coach, or isn’t about what your team is about just because he is more talented than the next guy, you will hate coaching him all year
  • Have your assistants use “we” instead of “me” in recruiting
  • Know the recruiting rules…if you’re not sure about something you better ask!
  • Always have kids on the list to recruit in case you get caught in desperation mode when looking for a player. This is when you take a guy that doesn’t fit or is a bad player because you were not prepared.
  • Don’t jump to conclusions on recruits, make sure you have the right evaluation, and take the time to do exactly that…EVALUATE!
  • If you recruit junior college players: be prepared to give them TIME to adjust to your level, learn your system, and gain confidence. Don’t lose hope…be patient


  • Recruit shooters and shot makers…it’s hard to win w/guys that can’t shoot
  • It doesn’t matter what you run, if you can’t shoot
  • You can never have enough shooters, teams are hard to guard when 4 out of 5 guys on the floor can shoot it
  • Shooters have to shoot!(Extra shots, extra reps) the great players shoot everyday
  • Extra free-throws will help player’s rhythm/stroke during the season and will save their legs. Great place to get eyes on the basket, and regain focus.
  • Have shooting games/competitions before and after practice to help motivate to get extra reps in (Celtic 50, around the world, 7-Up, etc)
  • During shooting workouts w/players emphasize WHERE they should be shooting from. Game shots, from game spots, at game speed…especially shots they get in your offense.
  • NEVER over coach shooting!Keep it simple!Kevin Eastman only coaches “perfect feet, perfect follow through”. Find out what’s most important for your shooters and leave it at 1 or 2 things.
The following two tabs change content below.
Player Development Specialist (High School, College, & NBA) & Recruiting Analyst/National Camp Director

Related posts