Here at BenchBoss, we decided it is time to put a spotlight on one of the main lifelines of basketball: high school coaching. Over the next couple of weeks I will investigate what is it like to be a high school basketball coach in North America, analyzing the various inputs I have from coaches in Canada and United States. What are their main motivators? What is the hardest part about coaching teenagers? What tools do coaches use to better demonstrate their ideas to the youth? How fulfilling is it to teach someone the ways of basketball? These are just some of the questions that will be answered in my multi-part series about high school coaching over the coming weeks. 

In previous weeks, we have discussed the challenges high school coaches face and how technology helps them in overcoming them. But coaching the youth is much more than encountering problems and fixing them. In fact, the best thing about coaching high school basketball is that coaches are able to influence the behavior of their players, not only on the court, but in situations they find themselves in everyday. Coaching at this level clearly shows how guidance at one of the most confusing periods in life helps the player better prepare for future life challenges. In some cases, a coach can be the only one to help them do that.  Many of them don’t have the belief that they can be successful, and coaches are a crucial part of developing their confidence. Moreover, basketball coaches have an important job of transmitting the love for the sport to the next generation. There’s no better feeling than seeing one of your players care for the game as much as you do!

Now don’t be mistaken. Coaching young players can often be a very stressful job that requires a lot of patience and teaching skills to be done properly. Kids that are in high school usually have their own outlook on life and tend to be stubborn towards authority figures. That’s why it is important for coaches to have the right approach and find a way to get trough to their players. By creating a safe and fun environment for everybody on the team, the sport becomes much more enjoyable for everybody involved. Regardless of the team’s success, the coach can feel fulfilled when he/she creates such an environment and players are usually very grateful for that too. When I was that age, basketball practices were parts of my day where I could forget about my problems in school or personal life and just enjoy playing the sport I love. Achieving that for all of his/her players is one of the major accomplishments a coach can have.

When I asked one of my former coaches what he finds most rewarding about his job, he gave me an interesting answer that I keep thinking about: “The most rewarding thing about coaching high school basketball is mentoring young people and watching them reach new levels of success they may not have thought was possible.  I enjoy the relationships and creating moments with teams that we will enjoy remembering many years later and hearing from players about the many milestones and victories they experience in their lives”. It wasn’t the state titles, or the number of huge games he was part in. It was the relationships with players he formed along the way and their future success in which he found the most joy in coaching. The players did to. To this day I try to implement the same level of trust and transparency when coaching, knowing that it has had a huge effect on my confidence going forward. In a way, coaches look upon their players as children, so the proudness of their success moving on can be one of the most fulfilling things.

What makes high school and university coaching special is that they are established programs which can see their players grow over time. It is very special to work hard with a player for three years and see the major step forward the player took. Not only do the players grow on the basketball court, but they train their brain in complex problem solving and discipline. For a coach, nothing beats the feeling of seeing your player apply their mental abilities on other areas of life with great success. Not every player is going to be so upbeat about basketball to be open to coaching, but kids that try to soak in as much as possible and inherit the love for the game from the coach, those are the ones that make it worth your while.