A friend asked me to help coach a 6th grade boys basketball team this fall. A couple of years ago I stepped down as Varsity Head Coach of the West Seattle High School girl’s program and I wasn’t sure I wanted to coach again, but when I stepped onto the court and saw the boys hustling across the floor at tryouts, I knew it was the right decision. When I got home, I went straight to my office, pulled open my coaching file and started planning. I scanned the first three documents in my coaching notebook, Westside Big 5West Seattle Practice Rules and “10 to Win” Westside Rules of Defense, two of the three have nothing to do with basketball skills, a reminder to me of what coaching is truly about, teaching life skills.

Whether your players are in grade school or college there’s more to teach than just the fundamentals. Don’t get me wrong, I have coached for 25 years, and I love the fundamentals, I’m a stickler for the fundamentals, but I try to build a team mentality and have some fun along the way. At the varsity level there is an emphasis on winning, but what made our 2015 West Seattle team strong in the end, what got them to go undefeated in league and find success at the State level, was a belief in one another. This team mentality and positive attitude was backed with pride and sportsmanship. And, if you asked the girls, I believe they would say they are grateful for their experience and their teammates.

I’ll only have these 6th grade boys for a short practice once a week, and I will focus on the fundamentals and try to have some fun. But I also hope to instill a positive work ethic, teach sportsmanship and promote togetherness and pride for one another. Maybe only God or some higher being can do all that, but if I can touch upon some of it over the next few weeks than I’ll feel satisfied, then I’ll have done my job.

*Feel free to download any of the documents above and implement what you like into your basketball program.

Coach Elliott with her daughter and West Seattle player Charli (2015)