For Coaches
Lessons in Leadership

Lessons in Leadership


By Greg Bach

Awful game day execution.

Poor practice habits.

And team chemistry that’s gone AWOL.

These can pose real challenges for even the best coaches.

So when you encounter them on your coaching journey – before directing your attention at your young athletes and what you are seeing – pause for a moment and consider what your players are seeing from you instead.

That’s right, look inward first, says Princeton women’s basketball coach Courtney Banghart, one of the sport’s great leaders.

“Even at the youth or high school level leadership is about being authentic, pointing inward and recognizing that it’s about what you get out of the group,” Banghart says. “Not what you present to the group.”

Think about how influential that approach can be in your coaching.

“If my team doesn’t play well or practice well, I’m always pointing inward,” says Banghart, the 2015 Naismith Coach of the Year who Fortune magazine put on its prestigious list as one of the world’s 50 greatest leaders. “If we don’t have people who take care of each other on our team then I point right away to our staff and say, ‘Are we modeling how to treat people?’”


Of course, nobody likes missing shots; and everyone gets frustrated at times with their performance.

But as the coach you’ve got to teach kids to move on and dial in to the next possession.

“Kids are hanging onto possessions too much,” Banghart says. “It’s a game that is fluid so first of all you have to teach them that one possession doesn’t win or lose the game.”

Even more importantly, you don’t want your players to give the opposition an edge by what they are showing them via their body language.

“We don’t want to show signs of weakness,” Banghart says. “We don’t want the other team to think, ‘I have an edge now because so-and-so is frustrated or so-and-so is deflated.’ I think body language is critical and it starts really from the teaching side of it. Don’t hold onto possessions and understand that you are showing weakness.”

So talk to your players about what their body language is saying to the other team so that they are exuding confidence all game long.

“In a competitive environment if your opponent is always jogging in and out of timeouts and doesn’t have their hands on their knees, those are signs of strength,” Banghart says. “We try to win that element of the game.”

Courtney Banghart Coaching Basketball Leadership Body Language

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