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A high school basketball program offers the unique opportunity to mold young lives and engage with the community on a variety of levels. Whether you are starting from scratch and building a program from the ground up, or taking over an already established program, here are a few tips to keep in mind to make the most out of this experience:

SURROUND YOURSELF WITH THE BEST PEOPLE: When building your staff, always be asking yourself, “Am I surrounding myself with the very best people for the job?” The “best” can be defined in a myriad of ways. Look for people who are committed to developing kids beyond their athletic ability. You want people who not only have exceptional basketball acumen but who also have a proven track record in connecting with players. It is also vital to choose a staff with coaching and personal philosophies that align with yours.

ENGAGE THE MIDDLE SCHOOL PROGRAMS: Make an effort to develop a good relationship with the middle school coaches in your feeder pattern. While you want to be careful not to overstep your leadership boundaries, it is helpful to let these coaches know what skills you want to be emphasized in middle school so that the incoming high school players come to you ready to play at that level.

START THEM YOUNG: The most successful high school programs recognize the importance of developing talent at a young age. One of the best ways to do this is to implement a feeder program starting at the elementary school level. This can be as simple as holding periodic clinics for young players or can be as advanced as developing select teams to compete against other high school feeder programs in the area. As a bonus, this will cultivate an interest in the high school program with young families which will strengthen community ties and encourage participation.

COMMUNICATE: Don’t let poor communication be the downfall of your program. Develop a communication process that keeps everybody involved in your program effectively informed and engaged. This starts at the administrative level and filters down to the parents and the student-athletes. Not only will an effective communication protocol head off potential issues, but it will also engage the entire basketball community.