Last week, I had the opportunity to attend the 2023 Head Coach Training Center (HCTC) event in Orlando, Florida. HCTC is an annual event for aspiring Head Coaches who are looking to develop personally and professionally in the basketball world. Aside from basketball coaching knowledge, the conference was filled with practical wisdom that is beneficial to all areas of life.
Reflecting on the conference, there are a few lessons that I’ll take with me from the conference.
Keep First Things First
The life of a college basketball coach is incredibly busy. From recruiting to practice planning to managing an entire staff, there is much more than one-person can do on their own. Productivity expert Mandy Green shared the importance of systems and processes. Instead of believing the lie that the Head Coach is supposed to do everything, she advises working to build systems that empower other people to take ownership of various tasks.
The key takeaway from this lesson is how important it is to keep the first things first. This means avoiding the urgent but unimportant tasks when there are less urgent but higher priority items to be taken care of first. Constantly asking yourself the question, is this the most valuable way I could be spending my time? Is a good habit to get into!
Put Yourself Around Great People
Building off of the point above, a Head Coach can not do everything alone. Also, no Head Coach got to where they are now without help from people around them. Almost every Head Coach speaker shared stories of being on various coaching staffs, learning from mentors who came before them. The best teams are full of high performing people.
This is beneficial to the organization or team they work for, and the individuals themselves. Everyone learns from one another and brings out the best in each other. This is why so many Head Coaches have coaching trees underneath them, because they are sharing their wisdom with the people that help them live out their vision.
Follow Your Own Journey
In basketball and life, you never know when the big opportunities are going to come your way. For some coaches, they got their first Head Coaching job before 30. For others, they were assistants for decades before the first Head Coaching opening came their way. Regardless of position, there is always something to be learned no matter what your title. These leaders stressed the importance of sticking to your own journey and timing instead of comparing your progress to someone else's!
The Difference Between Success and Failure
One coach shared an eye opening story about just how small the margin can be between success and failure. He recalled a situation in a conference championship game where his team was playing to earn a bid into the NCAA tournament. Late in the game, his team was winning by one-point. Before the season, his Athletic Director made it clear that if the team did not qualify for the NCAA tournament, that the coach would lose his job. In the final seconds, a player on the other team took a shot as time expired.
As the ball was in the air, the coach realized that the fate of his next few years rode on this shot. Ultimately, the shot missed, and the coach ended up getting a 5-year contract extension. The lesson I took away from this was that sometimes the smallest break can consider you a success or failure in the eyes of the world. But, we can not always control if the shots fall or not. All we can do is work hard and trust outcomes to work out.
A theme of the week from a lot of the top Head Coaches was the importance of a strong team culture. The coaches shared that culture is how well your people connect with one another and buy into the vision being casted. Culture is not necessarily about having the fanciest facilities or the most resources. Even with minimal budgets, there are still creative ways to foster connections and build deep relationships. The biggest thing is making sure that your players, teammates or coworkers know that you care for them and are willing to provide support when needed.
I hope you took a few nuggets of wisdom away from these coaches and am grateful for our friends at HCTC for putting on an incredible event!