4 Basic Principles that Every Role Model Coach needs to Nurture

Written by: Chris Hungerford



Time to read 6 min

Throughout the years I have noticed that there are so many mini-basketball leagues that are emphasizing winning, that are focused just on the result of whether the kids win or lose the games. And that's it!

It came to my knowledge that those teams are playing zones, often they have unequal playing time, and the environment that is created around them is filled with stress. Coaches of these teams are yelling at the kids and placing the unwanted pressure of winning on to them rather than playing the basketball the right way.

Should I need to mention that the parents of these kids helping those coaches? Probably you already know.

This needs to stop immediately people!!!

role model coach

And the real basketball result? Do you really want to know what happens to a serious number of these kids and teams in 5 to 6 years:

Kids Quit the Sport. The number 1 reason kids quit sports is that it's not fun anymore. So why are we making it so stressful for them?

A recent study that is analyzing how many of the kids that are participating in organized youth teams continue to play the sport later on. Over 80% of these kids no longer play their participated sports after the age of 13.


In older days, kids never played the organized sport until they turn 13.

role model coach


  • Kids at a young age are not able to battle stress.
  • Kids love to have fun and all they want is to play freely. Placing a toll on just winning the game, having just a few of them to play and the rest to be on the bench all the time, yelling at them, and creating stress is one of the reasons why so many kids turn to Fortnite and League of Legends. This is one of the many reasons why people are getting unhealthier and fatter every year.


  • We as coaches need to create a learning atmosphere on our teams where the game is learned by having fun. I do not say that the kids should not play to win, they must play to win for sure, but it has to be THEIR DECISION. 
  • You need to favor good basketball, unity , love, care, fundamentals, and energy, and they need to create a will and an effort to display everything that they know in order to win a game. Do this, and they already won a championship, the real game which is a battle for them learning how to love the game.
role model coach

The most idolized coach is not going to be the one who has the most wins. The most admired coach, and perhaps the coach who is going to impact the team and make the biggest difference to young players, is the one who:

  • Likes to nurture players
  • Tries to understand players
  • Sets clear boundaries as to what is acceptable
  • Help players remember what is right and what is wrong.


It is very important that you as a coach make an effort and take time to analyze and deduct what kind of the team are you coaching. You can use the following questions as a guideline:

Is it a first-class elite team? A children’s team? Is it a mini-basketball team? Is it a team made up of promising young players? 
Is it a school team? A club team? What sort of organization does the team belong to? What sort of school or club? Why are the players playing? For fun? 
How long have they been playing? To spend time with friends? To learn and get better at basketball? How good are the players? What is their potential?

The answer to each of these questions is going to help you get the bigger picture of your team which is crucial for a coach to avoid the kind of mistakes that can arise if the coach and players have different plans and expectations for the team.

If you are a coach who likes to have fun on the court, to spend time with children with the goal of just breathing in some positive energy and to get them off the streets, and you have a group of basketball-hungry players who like to win and not just win but to blast their opponents from the court, you are going to get in trouble. And visa versa.

Once you get to know what kind of team you are coaching, it is important to gather all of the players and to give them a voice by encouraging them to talk about the team and the expectations both out of themselves, the team, and out of you as a coach. If you are about to coach some young children, this must also include communication with the parents and their thoughts about everything that you are trying to achieve with their kids.


A coach who trains very young players has the responsibility to do everything that is in his power to contribute both in their sports life and in general. There is no universe where you should be interested only in short-term achievements because that can end badly for the team and for yourself.

Taking into account all of the above and being precise and thorough, you will need to create a general path for the team which is going to complement the player's wishes, possibilities, and circumstances.

For example, If you are a coach of a mini-basketball school team (ages about 9-10), it is wise to consider the following:

  • All players should have an equal opportunity to participate in games in terms of playing time.
  • Some of the players may never have played before so prepare both them and the team for the errors.
  • Some players will have good athletic skills while others will not and the level of conditioning is going to vary.

So, your main job is to observe and to take notes so when the players come to practice you are going to know what they need so you will have fully prepared training in order to work on their flaws.

You as a coach must contribute to the personal development of these children in developing a positive attitude.

The same goes if you are a coach of a professional basketball team. You are obligated to do everything to make your players better in every way possible.  Therefore, the general goals for a mini basket league club should be:

1. Kids should enjoy themselves
2. Kids have to work on themselves to improve their physical condition
3. Kids should improve their health by getting their bodies fit 
4. Kids must be aware of certain values (such as teamwork, respect for others, equality, etc.)
5. Kids should learn basketball fundamentals (dribbling, passing, etc.)

Development league progression

role model coach

8 to 10-Year-Olds (3rd & 4th Grade):

  • Play 3 on-3 basketball or practice 3 on-3 situations
  • No Zone, No Traps, No Pressing
  • Practice defense on the half-court (or just inside the 3 pt line)
  • No real 3 pt shots (or draw a closer 3 pt line)
  • Closer Free Throws (8-10 ft.)
  • 8-9 feet height of the rim
  • Junior Ball
role model coach

10 to 12-Year-Olds (5th & 6th Grade):

  • Start playing 5 on 5 (but keep 3 on 3 drills to practice the fundamentals of a team game)
  • Still no trapping defense and zone
  • Half-court 1 on 1 defense in the first half and Full Court 1 on 1 defense in the second half.
  • Equal playing time for kids that follow rules and the reduced playing time for kids that do not respect rules.
  • Some 3 pt shots are allowed but only if left alone on the arc and not more than 2 per half.
  • 9-10 feet height of the rim
  • Intermediate ball
role model coach

12 to 14-Year-Olds (7th & 8th Grade):

  • 5 on 5 basketball with 3 on 3 drills
  • Man to Man defense 50% of the game, start using traps
  • Equal playing time earned by effort and skill. Less skilled players should get at least 15 minutes of playtime to be able to develop in-game experience
  • 10 feet height of the rim
  • Senior ball

role model coach

role model coach

role model coach

role model coach

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