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.


It is important to hold your players accountable and to hold yourself accountable as a coach. If you start to lose that fire and love for the game, call yourself out and get back on track with doing what needs to be done. If you are not getting the job done as a coach: recognize it, find a solution, and resolve the issue. It is most important to lead by example as the leader of your program. I make it a point to come to practice everyday earlier than every player on my team and to stay until every player has left. Going above and beyond with my game preparation is another way for me to lead by example. I’m not going to name anybody specifically, but I have witnessed another coach of a different sport skip out on entire off-seasons of practices, posting pictures of them partying with alcohol on social media (that students have the ability to see), and then call out players for not being committed to the program.


Holding players accountable will gain you the respect of your athletes. It is important to make sure that expectations are made clear to your athletes. A coaching mentor of mine who was also a high school teacher told me that he only had one rule for his students and athletes, “Do what you are supposed to be doing, when you are supposed to be doing it”. This rule was made clear to his students and athletes through constant repetition. He rarely had anybody question him when he would call them out for not doing what they were supposed to be doing.

No matter which athlete is violating a rule that might be in place, it is important to stay consistent with the way that you enforce your rules and hold that athlete accountable. If your star athlete does something that violates a rule, the punishment must be the same as it would if this was any other athlete.

Making accountability a priority will help your program become one without off the court issues and instill the discipline needed to help your athletes after they graduate high school.

Weight Lifting

Weight lifting and strength training are truly a must in todays prep basketball scene. Much like I stated yesterday, I have no medical training and suggest that all coaches consult with a doctor or athletic trainer before they design their strength program. Even though we refer to it as weight lifting, I like to call it strength training because a lot of the work that is incorporated does not involve weights.


Based on the strength goals that I have had for my teams, it is necessary to have a great program in place during the Spring, Summer, and Fall. I don’t like to see players utilize heavy weights when they are doing weight lifting unless it is with machines. Personally my workouts that I do on my own include super slow-motion weight lifting with extremely heavy weights on machines. Free weights from my experience with teams can lead to more injuries and have a higher risk factor.

I am also a huge advocate of workouts that incorporate the body weight of each athlete. Push-ups, planks, dips, burpees, etc… are all examples of body weight exercises. Other types of resistance training that I like to incorporate include utilizing bands into training. I have seen great results from using defensive slide resistance bands when having players do offseason workouts. Plyometric training is a third option but this can definitely be a bit tough on the knees of each athlete.

When I am hired to come in and consult with teams, this is a very popular topic that I am brought on to assist programs with.