OT: Coaching basketball/two sports

Submitted by Magnus on June 28th, 2013 at 6:14 PM

I have recently been offered the opportunity to coach high school basketball as an assistant. I have only coached football in the past, but I've always wanted to coach basketball and/or baseball, too. I haven't made up my mind yet whether to add basketball coaching to my duties, but I'm strongly considering it. There are lots of positives (spending time coaching kids, the competition, learning more about the sport, etc.) and some potential negatives (basketball teams seem a little more prone to pre-Madonna attitudes, it's right after a very taxing football season/work schedule, etc.).

Does anyone have words of wisdom or advice on coaching a second sport, coaching basketball, etc.? Thanks in advance.



June 28th, 2013 at 6:24 PM ^

Well, honestly I think pre-Madonna is much better than post-Madonna. But that's just me.

Edit: dammit I was beaten to the punch. That's what I get for not reading subject lines.


June 28th, 2013 at 6:24 PM ^

Yea id come in day one and be hard ass to show your not messing around. Then as the season progresses I'd lighten up here and there so it doesn't make you out to be a complete ass. But I'm guessing most the kids you would've coached during football, right? If so you probably won't be too hard as you have a little familiarity with some guys.


June 28th, 2013 at 6:30 PM ^

Yea that would be a nice help with them. That means you would only have 3-5 more guys to get to know and you would have some back up with the 9. Plus your the assistant so it probably wouldn't be too hard (at least without knowing how the Head Coach runs the team). Good luck if you do it.


June 28th, 2013 at 6:47 PM ^

This is excellent advice.  I know we are talking about you doing basketball, but you mentioned baseball as a possibility in the future.  Baeball parents are HORRIBLE.  They are heavily involved and their kid was a little league all-star...because everyone who is decent is a little league all-star.


June 28th, 2013 at 6:44 PM ^

I used to coach two sports every year.  The first two years of my teaching career, I coached basketball and baseball. The next two years, I coached basketball and golf.   It was A LOT but really enjoyable.  The golf was a really nice break compared to the team sports (despite the fact that you technically play as a team...you know what I mean).

 Basketball is a really long season compared to the fall and spring sports especially if you get into doing the holiday tournaments which completely kills your xmas if you have any traveling to do.  In terms of coaching, I think basketball is one of the hardest sports to coach, although not as difficult as football.  There are a lot of intricacies to the game that need to be taught.  I am not sure what level you would be coaching but the higher the level, the more complex it is.  Coaching JV or a Freshman team may be a good place to start.  The kids move so much slower and a lot is done with player/skill development rather than running an team offense and defense. 

I think where you may run into an issue is the offseason conditioning.  I imagine there will be a bunch of overlap during the spring and summer.  That was the main reason I switched from baseball to golf.  Yes, I took the easy way out.


June 28th, 2013 at 6:49 PM ^

Head to the local playground wearing high shorts, higher socks, a sweatband and the most neon colored tank top you can find.

Challenge the local ballers and shot callers to 3-on-3. Find two of your friends, the older the better, and have then dress appropriately. Tell the haters that you will "break their ankles" and to "come see you in the streets".

Take it to the hoop with that old man speed and strength. Inform them that this game is and always will be about buckets. Once they start yelling "Damn Gramps!" and "Man, this old cat got skills yo", you know you're doing it right.

Once you rehearse that performance, repeat it with your players. They will be blown away at your wisdom and old-sageness. They will respect you for life. You will compete for the state championship.

Basically, be Uncle Drew.


June 28th, 2013 at 6:52 PM ^

and if that's your chosen career (besides uber-blogger), then what are you waiting for?   lots of high school coaches do just what you are contemplating and it works out very well.   with a team of cross-overs from football, your b-ball duties will be easier, not harder.   you obviously have the mental capacity and football knowledge, and i can't imagine you wouldn't be an excellent b-ball coach too.

lastly, the biggest thing you teach kids at those ages is character.  they'll get X's and O's, chalk talks, play diagrams all day long, but you teach them character and all the other stuff falls into place.   well, and you'll have to make sure they can sing 'The Victors'.   then definitely you'll have done your job. 

If only Carr w…

June 28th, 2013 at 7:14 PM ^

attitude with every player. I've coached both sports and I have noticed basketball players tend to look to be "coaches pet". Every coach has a player that they will bond with easier than others. Try to bond with every player on your team and remind your team that everyone is equal and everyone must work together to win games.

Lots of basketball players slack off in practice as well. This made me livid. Keep practices fun and exciting and VERY competitive.

You should be fine..Head basketball coaches like to be in control.  There arn't as many coaching specialties as football, which means your drills and lessons will have to be ok'd by the head coach more so than in football.


Cowboy Cody

June 28th, 2013 at 7:19 PM ^

It all depends on what academic subjects you teach. If there a number of subjects you teach, and multiple essays to grade on a daily/weekly basis, I'd stick to one sport or you'll burn yourself out. Been there. Done that.


June 28th, 2013 at 7:44 PM ^

It's a lot to take on. I know my HS coach was the HC for soccer, basketball, and baseball. Had to wear him out, even though we were a school of about 100 in D4 in Ohio. Eventually he dropped to only coaching basketball.

If you love it, I don't see why not. And it can't hurt too much to try it one season to see how it goes. Do it now before you get too old.

Steve in PA

June 28th, 2013 at 8:12 PM ^

My son's JV baseball coach just accepted a head basketball position at another school. He was a 2 sport athlete in HS and played college baseball. Post-graduation he was an assistant on the college basketball team.

He coached summer AAU basketball and Legion baseball before he landed a full-time teaching position.

The only problem he anticipates is that basketball may cut into pre season baseball but the Varsity coach is fine with it. I would suspect if your football team is any good it will cut into your basketball duties.

As someone said above, coaches will coach. My son wants to be a baseball coach and the coach I refer to has been a great mentor and coach to him.

All Day

June 28th, 2013 at 8:29 PM ^

During my student teaching I assisted with Jv football, varsity basketball, and freshmen baseball. I enjoyed it, but it was exhausting. This past year I was a varsity football assistant and freshman basketball head coach, and while I love football I will probably be giving that up to focus on developing my basketball career. The level you are coaching and your relationship with the head coach makes a huge difference. It sounds like you've got football under control, so if you feel like the basketball head coach will work with you it should be manageable. Besides, you can always try it for a year and see if it works for you.

Also, there isn't as much basketball players are this and football players are that, kids are kids and they will rise to the expectations you set in practice (as I'm sure you know from football). It's easy to send a message to a basketball player - sit him.


June 29th, 2013 at 6:35 PM ^

Out here our football season runs from July through December. Basketball is October through March. A lot of coaching relationships are strained due to the overlap in seasons and forcing coaches to pick a sport come October 1st. Be prepared to face some heat over the decision


June 28th, 2013 at 8:52 PM ^

pay attention to kids away from the team if your trying to win. some of the best basketball players I played against didn't bother trying out, they would rather play street ball.


June 28th, 2013 at 8:56 PM ^

Former High School varsity head basketball coach, and I was also the assitant high school soccer coach, so I have some experience. My thoughts:

  1. do you love basketball, or just coaching?  Adding that 2nd sport, if you are busy, is pretty tough unless you really love the sport.  I'm assuming you love coaching, but if you don't love the sport, it becomes tough.
  2. coaching basketball is the single BEST sport to coach (yes, I'm biased).  But if you don't really know the sport well, it can be pretty hard.  If you are the assistant and the head coach knows your abilities, you don't have to be a technician, etc.  You can be helpful with the knowledge that you already know.  After even one year as an assistant, you will know much more.  But if you come in really knowing the game - both strategy but even more importantly the individual body positioning, etc - it is a blast to coach.  Unlike football, there are fewer players, fewer things happening, so you get to work a lot one-on-one with kids and really see dramatic improvments.  I feel that you can see kids' improvements with good basketball coaching more clearly and faster than any of the big five sports.
  3. There is a TON of info on the internet about basketball coaching - team strategies and skill development.  As an assistant, you won't have to lead with this stuff but rather follow, so it shouldn't be too hard.  I assume the head coach would clearly define your role, and if so, you could really find the info online you need to coach your role.  Until this year, I had only coached high school kids.  This year I started coaching my 6th grade son's team.  I had no idea really what to do.  I didn't understand that level of basketball well.  I went online and was amazed at how much info there is now (wasn't there when I started coaching almost two decades ago).
  4. coaching is coaching is coaching.  If you are a good coach, you don't have to be an excellent sports-skills guy to be effective.  You can assume that is covered by the head coach.  A lot of these kids are already your football players, and your leadership is already part of the coaching role.
  5. Back to coaching basketball - while football you can call the plays, and so strategy is very direct, in basketball you are right there in the action - a lot more discussion with players, more small tweaks to the game, in vocal range during the game to call plays, remind players of things they have learned, etc.  A ton of fun to coach.


June 28th, 2013 at 9:01 PM ^

One more thing:

  • I haven't found any prima donna problems at all with basketball.  I would guess it is no different than any sport - it will always exist if the coach allows it, and it won't exist if the coach can learn to earn the respect of the team (and this does NOT only come through knowledge of the game).  Unlike football, you work more directly with the kids individually, and this tends to build strong relationships with players and decrease problems with players who think they are all-important.  Anyway, this is the last concern I would have about coaching basketball.  It is the same in every sport


June 28th, 2013 at 9:18 PM ^

Current varsity basketball coach and an AD. No doubt you can do it, on two conditions: you must love what you do and you must have a supportive family. I am lucky to be blessed in that regard as I am never home during basketbsll season, whic is definitely the longest (4 months). A good coach dedicated more than just the seaso as well. We take one week off after the season ends, the mandated dead week during the summer, and the mandated two weeks of no contact before season starts, making it an 11 month out of the year PROCESS! Have to love it!


June 28th, 2013 at 9:45 PM ^

I've coached varsity basketball at a very high level (had John Beilein in the gym for a recruiting visit, for example) and at a much lower level. At the lower level, I coached three sports seasons a year.

Are you a teacher? That makes it easier - seeing the kids during the day, getting to know them better, knowing the school better, holding academic practices or study halls before practice, etc.

1) I don't think basketball kids are more prima donna than football kids. I haven't coached football, so that's just my opinion (I've coached basketball and soccer at varsity level; also baseball and lacrosse). At the schools where I've worked, it just depends on the head coach. The character of the team follows from the character of the head coach, almost always.

2) You say the b-ball position is an assistant spot. Definitely base a lot of your decision on what the head coach is like, how you two get along, etc. I've worked as an assistant for a head coach who was not worthy of his players, and it was a nightmare. I'll never repeat it. I was constantly caught between the parents, the players, the AD, and the coach, who was a super nice guy, but just not cut out for the job, even though he really wanted to be.

3) I would 100% reject the advice of whoever it was that said ignore the parents. Sports parents are like teeth. If you ignore them, they might eventually go away, but it's likely going to be very painful and messy before that happens. Absolutely do not ignore them. Cultivate relationships with them. Make sure they know you're in charge, make sure they know boundaries, but talk to them. For god sakes, who's going to cover that summer scrimmage when you and the head coach have a wedding to attend and your jv coach is camping and your freshman coach is John L Smith only less stable? Who's going to spend $2000 on team fleeces? You need parents in your program.

4) I guess compared to a soccer team, and probably a football team, the basketball kids get more individual attention. So if you only like group drills, platoon work, etc. then maybe b-ball won't be to your liking.

5) Depending on what state you're in, yeah, the winter sports high school season is by far the longest. Not fairly compensated for, either.

6) Make sure you stay on friendly terms with the maintenance staff and the cheerleading coach. Bad things can happen otherwise.

7) Preview the warm-up music ahead of time.

Now I'm probably just rambling useless stuff you already know; fire away with questions in the event you want to hear more. Bottom line for me is that it's great, but it's very time-consuming, especially at a high level when you're flying around the country for tournaments in both the winter and summer.


June 29th, 2013 at 12:26 AM ^

Baseball Basketball and Football for many years. I have been a head coach at each sport and I will tell you this. A earlier poster posted that basketball is the most rewarding, it's not. Basketball is the easiest sport to coach hands down and if you get 1 stud you can ride him all the way to a state championship. Football and Baseball are so much more rewarding and take so much more time to develop players. The fact you have to develop pitchers makes baseball just as hard as football. Because in football if you don't have a QB you run the rock, if you don't have a RB but you have a QB then you become pass happy, but in baseball everyone needs a pitcher and a catcher. Just my 2 cents. Here in Cali there is the most competitive Baseball you will ever see anywhere in the United States hands down. Every major high school has 1 or 2 players that throw in the high 80's and mid 90's....the travel ball circuit here is ridiculous. Same w summer football it's crazy!


June 29th, 2013 at 12:38 PM ^

I coach basketball and I love it.  It's funny, because when I was playing, basketball was the lowest sport on my priorities.  I was a serious baseball player, kinda serious soccer player, and played basketball because my friends did. 

Now I coach basketball and soccer and absolutely unequivocally would give up soccer if I had to in order to keep basketball.  I LOVE the one-on-one coaching you get to do.  Someone mentioned it already, but seeing kids develop so much over the course of the season (the longest season in Michigan high school sports, as many have mentioned) is so rewarding.

Something nobody has mentioned:

Those late Tuesday/Friday nights can be brutal.  JV/Varsity double header away games that run late or are an hour+ away are tough.  There have been times when I get to work (school) at 7:30am and we get back to school from the games at 11pm.  You are definitely not compensated by the hour very fairly, but you already coach so you know this.

I've never had any issues with parents, though this season it is one of my personal goals to develop better relationships.  Our basketball program is very well run, the parents recognize this and let us do our thing for the most part.  But that respect was earned and built over long periods of time.  It's something I'll be working on with our soccer program.

Head coach-assistant coach relationship.  It's crucial.  If you're an assistant coach and you don't work well with the head coach, you'll be miserable.  If you work well with him, it's great.  Obvious, but I think it is even more important in basketball because of the smaller numbers and more intimate setting.

Don't get a tech as an assistant coach.  I am definitely not speaking from experience....