Off-Season Improvement: Time to Get Better as a “Coach”

By Scott Rosberg

Make sure part of your off-season preparation is devoted to you becoming a better coach in general, not just a better coach in basketball.

Normally, my posts here are often reposted from original blogs on my own site, Great Resources for Coaches site, and I’ve been grateful that FastModel Sports has allowed me to spread my knowledge and experiences to its large coaching audience. It has been a win-win situation for years now! [Editor’s note: check out Scott’s blog archives for everything he’s written for us.]

Today, however, just like any good coach, I am changing the game-plan a little. This post is special, as I am writing it specifically for the FastModel audience (although if I like it, I may throw it up on my site too!). But the point is, when writing this my mindset was focused on those that regularly follow this blog.

The reason for this change in process is that it is mid-spring.

You might be thinking to yourself, “What difference does that make, Scott?”

Because for basketball coaches, right now is downtime, a bit of a dead period to begin the off-season. Sure, we have the NBA playoffs happening right now, which are fun to watch and maybe pick up some things you can use. But many of you coach at the middle school, high school, or college levels; your seasons have been over for a while. You are finally catching up with your families who you haven’t seen much since Thanksgiving. You are getting in some rest and relaxation. You are reacquainting yourself with the health club and your pillow, and you’re binge-watching Game of Thrones episodes you missed. The pace and focus of your life have been dramatically altered. Now what?

Time to Improve

Well, along with all the free time that you now have, this is a great time for another important kind of time – Improvement Time. There are many ways for you to improve in many different areas of your lives. But since this is a site for basketball coaches, that is what I want to focus on.

However, before I go any further, let me address that last line. While I want you to consider doing things to help you improve as a basketball coach, I want you to drop the word “basketball” out of that concept for the rest of this article. Now before you take your mouse and click away from here, let me explain.

I don’t want you to stop working to be a better basketball coach. I am a basketball coach, too. Of course I want to improve as a basketball coach every year, just like you do. However, before I am a basketball coach, I’m a coach. It is the “coach” part of “basketball coach” that we’re going to dive into deeper.

You see, when most coaches hear about or think about improving and becoming better, the first thing they want to do is look up and learn different offenses and defenses, skills and drills, strategies and schemes for basketball. I get it. Those are important things for us all to learn to be better basketball coaches.

But if you don’t become a better coach, period, you aren’t going to become a better basketball coach!

Much More than Just XsOs

What do I mean by that? I mean that it doesn’t matter what XsOs you learn (Sorry, FastModel!). It doesn’t matter what ball handling or shooting drills you learn. It doesn’t matter if you become an expert at the Dribble Drive, Read & React or Triple-Post offense.

I promise I’m getting to my point.

These don’t matter…IF: you can’t get kids to show up, show up on time, work hard, play together unselfishly, be resilient, be disciplined, be accountable, be tenacious, be eligible, and be any other number of things you need them to be, it won’t matter what offense or defense you run. You won’t be as successful as you could be. In other words, if you don’t first take care of what it means for you to be a great coach, you’ll never get to the point where you become a great basketball coach.

Too many coaches focus on the XsOs as the be-all and end-all for what makes great coaching. Like any other basketball coach, I also love watching games and seeing great sets that coaches run. I get as jazzed up as the next guy when I see a play that is executed perfectly and results in a bucket. I will rewind that play and put it in slow motion and sometimes draw it up, so I can use it next season or even next week.

But I also realize that the perfect play run to perfection only works that way if all of our players are on the same page with one another, as well as the coach. If we have players not showing up, or not engaged when they do show up, or out of shape, or not into their teammates succeeding, or any number of other problems, no matter how much I like that play, there’s a good chance we won’t execute it properly.

Improve in Areas off the Court

Basketball coaching starts with coaching. It starts with creating the right culture for your program. It starts with establishing your core covenants, values, and standards and then teaching, enforcing, and living by them. It starts with establishing relationships with your players – ALL of them, not just the few who you think can help you win – and engaging with those players about things that are far more important and far less important than basketball.

It starts with you becoming the best you that you can be, so you can help your players become the best people – not just the best players – that they can be. Help them become better people, and you help them become better players.

So as you are making your way through the off-season, preparing for your summer camps, workouts, leagues, and tournaments, make sure that part of your preparation is devoted to you becoming a better coach, in general, not just a better coach in basketball. Read books on coaching (not just basketball coaching), leadership, team building, and psychology. Watch videos and TedTalks that will stretch you. Go to clinics and try to find people talking about things other than XsOs. [Editor’s note: Check out and participate in our #FastModelChats!] Pick the brains of other coaches in your school that coach other sports.

In other words, expand your horizons. The more you expand your horizons as a coach, the more you expand your ability to expand your players’ abilities. After all, isn’t that what we are all trying to do – help our kids stretch and grow and improve? There are so many more ways to do that than just by instituting a new play in your offense out of a Horns set.

You owe it to yourself, your players, and your entire program/school/community to become the best coach you’re capable of becoming this off-season. Now is the perfect time to get out there and start doing something about it!

If you’re wondering where to find such information to help you become a better coach, might I suggest my website as a good place to start! Also, I highly recommend Proactive Coaching’s website – as another great place to find all kinds of information to help you become the best coach you can be. Good luck improving this off-season!

More from Scott Rosberg: Goal Coaching – “Plan the Work, then Work the Plan” | Failure IS An Option! | All Blog Posts

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Teaching and Coaching have been two of my greatest passions since I began my career over 30 years ago. I have always believed that as coaches, we are teachers just like any classroom teacher. However, we are entrusted with so much more than just teaching skills and techniques of our specific sports. We are role models, counselors, and educators of the many life lessons that sports can teach young people. Therefore, it is imperative that we intentionally work to teach those lessons to our athletes. You can find more articles like this at:

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