The Best Advice For Young Basketball Coaches (23 Tips)


Note: This is a collection of fantastic tweets from Craig Doty.

Coach Doty is currently the head coach at Emporia State University, and is a co-founder of Midwest Elite Basketball who run elite basketball camps.

Are you a young man or woman looking to get into the world of basketball coaching?

If that does sound like you, there's nothing better than getting advice from those who have already done what you're trying to achieve.

In this post, Coach Craig Doty will be sharing 23 tips he's learned on his journey to becoming the head coach at Emporia State University.

Listen up!

1. Don’t lock yourself into a mortgage or expensive car payment

Be willing/able to work for cheap or for free.

It’s all about getting your foot in the door.

Don’t worry about money; it will come later.

Focus instead of the opportunity to grow.

2. Win games / championships, and network

Want to move up in the industry?

Do things the right way.

Become great at player development and always have talented players at your finger tips.

female basketball coach talking to girls team

3. You can’t be hard on players without having a relationship with them first

Dictatorial/authoritarian leadership is a thing of the past.

Build the relationship, hold them accountable, and cut ties with those who refuse to buy-in.

4. Watch your pronouns

It’s not “your” team, it’s “our” team.

They aren’t “my” players, they are “our” players.

Make it about you only after losses.

5. Take the risk early in your career before you have a family and dependents

Pack the bags and move, work 16+ hour days, work every camp and attend every clinic you can.

Soon you’ll also need to prioritize a family and won’t be able to do this.

6. The higher the level doesn’t always mean the better the opportunity

Many D1 managers never get a coaching job.

D2, NAIA, D3 & JUCO part-time and student assistants get recruiting and on-court coaching experience which boosts their development and resume.

7. Be tight with the players but set boundaries

You need to be close enough so they confide in you but you aren’t their friend.

When they graduate the line disappears and you can become lifelong friends.

8. You’re one cell phone video away from losing your job and your career

You are a public figure.

Be smart at all times and represent your school well.

Build your brand on social media but don’t share your political or controversial opinions.

9. Coach in JUCO for two (or 10+) years

There’s no better way grow as a coach.

You’ll learn EVERYTHING and master the art of recruiting, academic oversight, managing student-athletes, and developing players.

It’s a beautiful level.

man holding basketball

10. Bring energy but have substance

The status quo doesn’t need to be followed but don’t blow it up either.

Be you, be different, be cordial, and respect industry standards.

Build a resume and brand that appeals to many for the most opportunities.

11. Do not recruit talent without regard for character, academics, and intangibles

A great way to lose your job is to bring in players who have attitudes on court, bad grades, and who are problems off the court.

12. There is no one path to get to where you want to go in coaching

It’s about networking, taking risks, helping others, and getting a little lucky.

Everyone has their story.

Share your personal journey below so others can see the different paths.

13. Working hard and being available is a must but make sure to have work/life balance

If the only thing important in your life is coaching, you’re doing it wrong.

Family is most important, get a hobby, and study things outside the realm of coaching.

14. Who you work for matters

Find head coaches who:

(a) Are relationship-based

(b) Who value family

(c) Who win

(d) Who aren’t married to the office

(e) Who allow their assistants to coach (go to a game & watch the bench)

(f) Who have moved their assistants on

15. Don’t get discouraged when looking for jobs

Stay persistent.

Young coaches often times find their best opportunities in late June, July and August.

Spend your time going after jobs you are qualified for.

Connections are key.

Use your network!

boys basketball team

16. Winning is great, but you’ll get the most satisfaction from the relationships established with the players long after they are done playing

There is nothing better than the texts, snaps, and requests to be a job reference.

17. Never promise a player playing time or a starting spot

Tell them of expectations based on their ability and the coaching staff’s vision but also remind them they have to continually earn what they want.

Ultimately, make it about their performance.

18. Marry the right person

Your spouse needs to be supportive, understanding, loyal, independent, and willing to sacrifice.

If you go home from work each day and your spouse is unhappy, you either won’t be married long or you won’t be coaching.

19. Don’t ruin your coaching career because of bad choices

Never drink and drive and understand you’re a public figure.

Assume there is a camera and a microphone on you at all times when you’re in public.

20. Get along with the other sport coaches at your school

Understand that their busy season is different than yours.

Support them, share facilities cordially, be friendly, spend time with them, help them in any way you can.

Your department is a team.

21. Don’t just tell players, show them

Film is your best friend.

Chart shots in individual workouts and keep stats in practice.

Show them the analytics.

This helps with role buy-in and keeps practices competitive on a daily basis.

22. It is tough to land a GA spot

It is hard to get a paid assistant position.

It is difficult to get an AD to hire you as a head coach.

The journey isn’t easy, job security isn’t good and your life is in the hands of young adults.

It’s the best though!

23. You can develop a motor in athletes

Start with conditioning.

Challenge athletes to battle fatigue in practice.

Teach them to play tired and still go full speed.

Don’t write a kid off because they don’t have a great motor.

Build the motor!