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January 21, 2013

HUNTER: Guide to winning hoops program

Eleven tips for coaches to be successful on court

SELLERSBURG — In being around a few different varsity basketball programs through the years and then running one for seven years, here are some things I believe are needed to have a successful program.

• 1. It is imperative that there is an elementary physical education teacher who is willing to play sports and teach the rules of those sports in their class. This is where the kids learn their first rules of basketball and all other sports. If a P.E. teacher isn’t doing these things (and to be fair, I don’t know the state standards of elementary P.E.), it sets your sports programs back.

• 2. The varsity basketball coach should hire the elementary and junior high coaches if they find it necessary to be involved on such decisions.

The varsity coach is who will be held accountable for varsity games and the feeder system is where they will get their players. The varsity coach should be allowed to pick who he wants to coach or be involved in picking them. The varsity coach is the person who should decide if the person is doing a good job as a coach, or not, and should be allowed to “fire” anyone who he deems not doing what will help the overall program.

• 3. Elementary and junior high coaches must do what the varsity coach asks.

If they are not building on fundamentals, they should be let go if that is what the varsity coach deems necessary.

Winning and losing is important at these age groups, but only within the confines of doing things the right way (your way). Practice should be 90 percent fundamentals and 10 percent trying to win.

• 4. The feeder program must be worked with through intramurals as early as possible (pre-K or kindergarten). You must get kids involved early and try to keep them around as long as possible.

• 5. The varsity coach must be professional and hard working.

• 6. The varsity coach must create relationships with kids all the way down through the system.

We live in a time where kids form relationships more with the coach than with the program. Especially if you have many people moving into your school and they are not from that area and know the history of your school.

The kids must want to play for you at best. At worst, they are not repulsed by it.

• 7. The varsity coach must create positive relationship with the parents all the way down if possible.

Same as No. 6 — parents must feel comfortable in having their child play for you. Unfortunately, the loyalty will be more to you than a program which has changed over the last few years.

• 8. The community should expect success out of the coach. For sure, the definition of success must be held to a high standard by the community.

Success has many definitions when it comes to coaching high school sports, but there must be some standards.

• 9. The community should expect success out of the players (individually and as a team).

However, as in No. 8, the community should push, scold, pat on the back, and compliment the players for representing their school and town.

• 10. The administration must expect success and be willing to help in ensuring it. (See Nos. 1-11 — I can honestly say that my administration at Henryville High School did that often.)

• 11. All coaches in the building must be willing to work together to ensure the success of all programs.

I think it is important to support as many programs as you can as the varsity coach because of the support and attention you often receive.

Some of these I was able to implement as coach. Some ... not so much.

Some because of my own lack of leadership skills and some because of outside influences.

This list may seem daunting to many coaches. But I believe, if you sit down and write what you do, you will find that it is comparable to many. It may even be much less than what some of you are doing.

I also think fans would be surprised that many of the things I have listed are not allowed, not to just varsity basketball, but to many programs within a school.

You cannot hold a coach accountable for what you will not allow them to do.

But what do I know?

Perry Hunter is a Henryville High School teacher and a former coach of the school’s boys’ basketball team. You can visit his blog at coachperryhunter.blogspot.com.

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