Lead By Example

If you are going to ask your athletes to do something it truly helps to lead by example. I have learned through experience that if your athletes see you as the hardest working member of the team, it makes it hard for them to question what you are doing or complain. This has been a great area of growth for me over the past couple of years, especially when it comes to strength and conditioning. I first want to preface that although it helps if you have been around the game of basketball, it is not crucial that every coach have played the game of basketball growing up.


My first couple of seasons at Ontario, I was horribly out of shape and it was difficult to get my athletes to completely commit to our strength and conditioning program. A couple of years ago I committed to fitness for myself and lost over 150 pounds and am now in the greatest shape of my life (shockingly, diet and exercise actually works). Now when we have conditioning before or during practice, I will get out there and do the workouts with my athletes and I no longer get any complaints and notice a guilty look from students who sit out a conditioning workout that I am doing with the team. This is just one example of a way that I have been able to lead by example.

Another great way to lead by example is make sure that you are at the gym before any of your athletes and you are the last one to leave. I make an effort to be in the gym reviewing game film when my athletes arrive and stay in the gym after practice to meet with my assistant coaches. Athletes notice these things and will respect you more if they see that you are committed to working hard and devoting time to the program. Being knowledgeable about your offense and defense will help them respect your knowledge of the game as well. Whenever a question gets brought up about something we are doing on offense or defense, I make an effort to give a solution or answer that has depth and shows that I am in complete understanding of what we are doing, how we need to do it, and what the expected outcome is.

Overall, it’s a great idea to lead by example because you are a role model to these athletes and it will help you be more successful as a coach. I am always open to suggestions so if you have any ideas, suggestions, or questions, please feel free to comment on this post or send me an e-mail.


Having your team in top physical shape is also an excellent way to increase your performance on the court. However, I am also opposed to overtraining and like to limit when conditioning takes place. To help clarify, I consider conditioning to be improving the aerobic fitness of athlete by increasing stamina, quickness, and energy. Tomorrow, we will focus more on weight lifting and strength. I want to preface this post with the fact that I am not a doctor and encourage every coach to consult with a doctor or athletic trainer when designing their program.


In order to maximize efficiency with conditioning, I like to focus on conditioning during just two segments of the year:

Fall- I like to really push my players to get better through a tough but realistic program that starts out slow and gets to be very tough toward the end of fall.

Winter- A lack of emphasis on in season conditioning has sometimes doomed teams. If you lose the conditioning that was built up during the preseason partway through the year, you will be at a disadvantage.

A couple of key focuses for your program are to incorporate distance running, sprints, and balance work. Here is a rationale behind each of these choices:

Distance Running- You do need to build up your overall cardio conditioning and running laps is an excellent way to do this. In the fall I will spendĀ one day a week on the track. During the season, I will not spend any days on the track.

Sprints- We add on sprints every week and during the fall we start small and work our way up to a large amount of sprinting by the end of fall. During the season, I will incorporate a sprinting aspect into each practice.

Balance- I am a huge advocate of yoga and other balance work. If you incorporate this into your workout program it is beneficial to contract with a skilled professional to guide this part of your workout.

Teams who are in shape and able to continue an up-tempo pace for the duration of a game have a huge advantage over their opponents. It does not come without hard work though and you need to put the work into the preseason conditioning program in order to see the benefits.