There are two types of basketball coaches. You have guys like Gregg Popovich, who will adjust his system to his personnel, playing to teams’ strengths. Then you have guys like Mike D’Antoni, who will try to implement his system no matter how the roster is constructed. No matter the system they run, all great coaches have some common features that make them great.
Former NBA star Penny Hardaway is currently coaching the Memphis Tigers, and he discussed some traits a coach needs to have to be successful. Hardaway emphasized the importance of gaining players’ respect and doing it by showing them what to do rather than just telling them.
“A player development guy needs to be able to get out there with the kids. If you’re showing, they’ll respect you more, and if you’re not showing and just telling, they’ll still do it, but if you’re out there doing it while you’re showing them, then they’ll have a different respect for you. I’ve always been the guy that’s been able to get out on the floor, show guys, and it seems to come off better that way. I’m not knocking any guy that didn’t get out there and show them, but I think that’s much better from the player’s point of view. You got to be able to do both.”Penny Hardaway
As a former NBA player, it’s easier for Hardaway to gain trust from his players based on the credibility he gained on NBA hardwood. That’s a common thing in the NBA. It’s easier for players to trust coaches who were once in their shoes because they are familiar with the process, and they can relate to them. Guys who don’t have backgrounds as basketball players, and who sere students of the game from outside the lines have it harder. However, it doesn’t mean they won’t be as successful.
Hardaway also stresses the importance of showing guys in-game scenarios in which a particular thing can be used. It’s essential to provide your players with options, not limiting them with many schemes that will stunt their creativity. It’s also crucial to develop relationships with your players. A coach needs to be a good psychologist through developing connections with players. Penny is also putting emphasis on studying the film. That’s the main focus of the NBA. Players spend a lot of time in the film room, analyzing their opponents and their tendencies on both ends of the floor.
“You got to be able to explain to them why something works. Give them scenarios where it can be used. You got to give them options. Your mental has to be locked in on your boys. You got to make them feel like they’re somebody and have relationships with all of them. You have to be able to command respect from knowing what you are talking about. I don’t think yelling and screaming is the way anymore. It’s teaching, developing the mental, lots of film work. You have to gain trust. Once you develop a relationship with your guys, they’ll do whatever you ask them to do.”Penny Hardaway
As a player, Hardaway has played for many amazing NBA coaches, from Chuck Daly in Orlando to Pat Riley in Miami. Judging by the things he said, he absorbed the most out of those great basketball minds. Combining that with the fact he was a great basketball player who, without a doubt, gains the respect from his players, Penny has a bright future as the basketball coach. Hopefully, one day in the NBA.