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10 Life Values to Teach Kids through Basketball

A coach is a teacher, and teachers can greatly contribute to the future of our society, more than any other profession. Basketball coaches can teach more than just basketball to our kids, and they need to be aware of the impact they can have in our future generations. The following are the values that should be included in every basketball training program to form, not only great basketball players, but also, people of goodness.

Punctuality: Be always on time

This virtue alone is a sign of so many values a person possesses. Being punctual reveals integrity, it shows you care about what you are doing, and it lets everybody know you can keep your word. A player who is always on time to practice has already put 50% of his effort to get better. Coaches should reward punctuality and should also penalize being late. They shall always stress the importance of punctuality and the benefits of going through complete training sessions.

“Punctuality at practice should not be compromised.” – Bobby Knight, Hall of Fame basketball coach

Respect: Trust and Obey Parents and Coaches; Respect and Trust Teammates

I am a father of 4 amazing children and one advice my father has always given me in regard to raising my kids is “Let the child’s first lesson be obedience, and the second will be what thou wilt.” This quote from Benjamin Franklin must be applied in all the homes to inculcate obedience and respect for authority from a young age.

“Every leader needs to remember that a healthy respect for authority takes time to develop. It’s like building trust. You don’t instantly have trust, it has to be earned.” – Mike Krzyzewski, Duke’s Coach

To be respectful with others all the time, regardless of background, abilities or beliefs, is to be considerate and supportive. Players need to understand that their parents and coaches want the best for them, and shall be attentive and appreciative for the guidance of their parents and coaches, and the knowledge that is being passed on to them. To respect and trust your coaches and teammates is essential to build friendship in the team, and is the base to achieve the crucial teamwork to be a winning team.

“Coming together is a beginning; keeping together is progress; working together is a success.” – Henry Ford

Accountability: Commitment, Effort and Responsibility to play your Role

A basketball player should know what she or he is supposed to do on the court. They should do their best to persevere, and then try again. They should think before they act, but still learn to make decisions, and consider the consequences fast. They better be accountable for their words, actions, and attitudes, always setting a good example for others. Players need to commit, give a 100% effort, and play their roles with responsibility for the good of the team.

“It’s not the push from behind or the pull from in front; it’s the drive from inside.” – Coach Dale Brown

 “Accountability is essential to personal growth, as well as team growth. How can you improve if you’re never wrong? If you don’t admit a mistake and take responsibility for it, you’re bound to make the same one again.” – Pat Summitt

Humility: Let it be one of the pillars of your basketball program

“Humility”, that’s what Tony Bennett, University of Virginia coach, answered to a reporter’s question: “What makes this team special?”, after his Cavaliers won the 2014 Atlantic Coast Conference Men’s Basketball Tournament.

Coaches need to train their players to not think too highly of themselves, to not care about who packs their stats of gets the glory, to forget about the “I” and play for the “We”.

Fostering Humility with a spirit of service to the team, along with passion, will sure bring success to your basketball program.

What you are as a person is far more important than what you are as a basketball player.” – Coach John Wooden

“Talent is God-given; be humble. Fame is man-given; be thankful. Conceit is self-given; be careful.” – from They Call Me Coach by John Wooden

Honesty: Pass it on

Always be true to yourself, your coaches and your teammates. Choose not to cheat or deceive in any way. Dishonesty harms you and harms others as well, damaging your spirit and the possibility to make good relationships. Be honest at home, be honest at school, and be honest on the court. Think and do what is right at all times no matter what the consequences. Live by this standard, even when no one is watching.

“Be prepared and be honest.” “Honest People don’t lie to others, to themselves, or to God.” – Coach John Wooden

Good Manners: Be an example

Coaches: Be strict with kids, but always be an example of good manners. Show them to be courteous with everybody; to say “please” and “thank you”, to say “yes Sir”, or “yes Ma’am”, to watch their language, and never interrupt when a person is speaking. Show them to thank the referees and the other team at the end of games. Show them to follow the rules and always abide by the golden rule: “Always do to others as you would wish them to do to you if you were in their place.”

“You try your hardest to raise your teenagers with patience, honesty and good manners, but they still end up being like you.” – Unknown 

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Discipline: Establish order in the team

In the section of Good Manners above, I suggested to show the players to follow the rules. This section is where we make the rules. A good basketball program should have rules and expectations for the players. The practice plan should be structured and planned to create a fun environment where the players and coaching staff can develop while enjoying the game of basketball. To enforce disciplinary action when required, and continue to motivate the players is a real challenge for parents and coaches, but it is absolutely necessary for the success of the program.

We see a great example of discipline in Jimmy Butler, who is averaging career-highs in points, rebounds, and assists for the Chicago Bulls. I really believe he is en route to be the Most Improved Player in the NBA for the 2014-15 season. During the summer of 2014, he decided to take disciplinary action with himself. He went the entire summer without cable and Internet so he would be forced to work out more. He’d eat, sleep and go to the gym because all he wanted was to be so good at the game, and it worked.

Discipline is the bridge between goals and accomplishment.” – Jim Rohn

Confidence: It is an extraordinary asset

“Amat Victoria Curam” (“Victory loves Preparation”) The best way to gain confidence about anything is to prepare about it. When it comes to basketball, it’s no different. Do you want to be or coach great confident shooters? If the answer is yes, then you have to train really hard, mentally and physically. Confidence is a mental condition developed by the physical abilities put to the test hundreds of times, and yet, could be easily lost. That is why constancy is also very important.

If you practice with emotion and purpose you’ll play with passion and confidence. Click To Tweet

Constancy: The quality of being enduring

Constancy is about working out to reach optimal strength and conditioning, and continue to prepare every day, every summer, all year long, to get better, to know what your limits are and know what you can achieve based on your abilities, to maintain your confidence, and finally, to win. There will be many obstacles, failures, and missed shots along the way, but be constant and you will endure.

“The Secret of success is constancy to purpose.” – Benjamin Disraeli

Leadership: Develop Future Leaders

As a coach, you are a motivator, a leader; and in basketball, leaders lead by example, so that other leaders arise from the benches. Just like Alan Stein put it: “If you expect something from the people you are leading, you have to expect it from yourself.” Great leaders communicate well, so encourage your players or teammates to practice good communication habits during practices and games. Promote more participation on the court, and let them know they can ask questions anytime.

Leaders reflect all the principle values we briefly described here. They are flexible, tenacious and patient defining their character to become great basketball players and exceptional people in life.

“Be more concerned with your character than your reputation, because your character is what you really are, while your reputation is merely what others think you are.” – Coach John Wooden


Like good habits, these values need to be preached over and over during trainings and games, until they become an essential part of all the players.


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