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Advice for Basketball Players: The Top 5 Things That Really Impress Coaches

Players at all levels of basketball want their fair share of playing time and the feeling that they have contributed to the success of their team. In an effort to accomplish this, players often do the best they can to impress the coach, who makes the decisions on playing time. After more than 25 years in the role as the decision-maker for teams that I have coached, I compiled the following list of positive ways for players to impress their coaches by helping their team. It is a "Top 5" list in three different categories to cover as much as possible as it applies to making a positive contribution to team success.

In General:

  1. Show a positive attitude at all times. The success of the team depends on it.

  2. Willingly follow the directions of your coaches without exception.

  3. Be early or at least on time to all team activities; do not put coaches in a position to punish you.

  4. Support the leaders and senior members of the team.

  5. Trust those in a position to help you the most.


  1. Hustle on every play (without being reminded).

  2. Do a great job guarding your man – force, pressure, and contain the ball or jump to the ball for help.

  3. Box your man out every time the ball is shot.

  4. Get lots of rebounds – more than 6.

  5. Get your man to turn the ball over.


  1. Play your role, as given, very well.

  2. Take great shots within the context of what we are doing as a team.

  3. Make great decisions passing the ball and don’t commit turnovers.

  4. Help us get into our offenses: five man break, horns, chest, other special plays and out of bounds plays. This involves knowledge of what we are doing, running the court and making the “ten foot sprint.”

  5. Get assists or make passes that lead to assists.

Like anything else, nothing is guaranteed, but if you do these things with consistency, you will increase your chance of gaining the attention of your coach and the reward of time on the court. Much of this will apply to the workplace and in life as well as basketball.

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