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32 Motivational Quotes from Legendary Basketball Coaches to Guide Your Coaching Values

Success starts with a winning attitude.

"One player’s selfish attitude can poison the locker room and make it hard, if not impossible, to establish teamwork"

—Dean Smith

"Talent is God given. Be humble. Fame is man-given. Be grateful. Conceit is self-given. Be careful."

—John Wooden

"A successful person never loses… they either win or learn!" —John Calipari

"Attitude is a choice. Think positive thoughts daily. Believe in yourself."

—Pat Summitt

Focus on the small details and fundamentals.

"Never let fundamentals and building skills take a backseat to game planning. Game plans win games. Fundamentals win championships."

—Tom Crean

"We try to stress the little things because little things lead to big things."

—Steve Alford

"You don’t play against opponents, you play against the game of basketball."

—Bobby Knight

"Offense sells tickets, defense wins games, rebounding wins championships."

—Pat Summitt

"Bad shots will beat you faster than anything else"

—Rick Majerus

Get your players bought in.

"Coaching doesn’t start with Xs and Os. It starts with believing that players win games and coaches win players."

—Bill Courtney

"I think the most important thing about coaching is that you have to have a sense of confidence about what you’re doing. You have to be a salesman, and you have to get your players, particularly your leaders, to believe in what you’re trying to accomplish on the basketball floor."

—Phil Jackson

"Your program must have an overriding purpose that is clearly visible and which teaches lessons beyond winning."

—Don Meyer

"Systems win! Believe in your system, and then sell it to your players."

—Billy Donavan

Chemistry is just as important as talent—if not more important.

"A basketball team is like the five fingers on your hand. If you can get them all together, you have a fist. That’s how I want you to play."

—Mike Krzyzewski

"You have to earn your right to win the game with effort and togetherness"

—Brad Stevens

"All the successful teams I’ve ever seen have three characteristics: They play unselfish, they play together, and they play hard."

—Larry Brown

"Some say you have to use your five best players, but I found out you win with the five that fit together best as a team."

—Red Auerbach

"Basketball doesn’t build character, it reveals it."

—James Naismith

"The best teams have chemistry. They communicate with each other and they sacrifice personal glory for the common goal."

—Dave DeBusschere

Defense wins championships.

"My philosophy of defense is to keep the pressure on an opponent until you get to his emotions."

—John Wooden

"Your defense will save you on the nights that your offense isn’t working."

—Adolph Rupp

"Defense is all about helping. No one can guard a good dribbler. You have to walk kids through how to help and then how to help the helper."

—Bob Knight

"Defense is not a game of hands; it’s a game of feet. Your feet have to dominate on defense. Your hands put the other team on the free throw line."

—Bob Knight

"If you are a good team, your offense is born on the defensive end."

—Don Meyer

"Winning is more related to good defense than good offense"

—Jack Ramsay

"In all the research you do as a coach, studying other coaches and championship-type situations, you find that all those teams combined talent with great defense. You've got to stop other teams to win."

—Pat Riley

"Good defensive play is as much a matter of hustle, desire and pride as it is anything else."

—Tex Winter

"If you're not talking, you're not playing defense"

—Doc Rivers

"Defense doesn't break down on the help, it breaks down on the recovery."

—Chuck Daly

Don't underestimate planning and preparation.

"I would spend almost as much time planning practice as conducting it. Everything was planned out each day."

—John Wooden

"You have no choices about how you lose, but you do have a choice about how you come back and prepare to win again."

—Pat Riley

"The key is not the ‘will to win’… everybody has that. It is the will to prepare to win that is important"

—Bob Knight


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