Basketball Coach or Basketball Trainer?

Summers are crazy!! Some basketball parents think that the summer break is the only time their player should seriously focus on their individual game. Being a basketball trainer, this is a good thing, because I get to work with elite players that I normally would not have the opportunity to work with during the fall or spring. Last week I received a ton of phone calls. This is normal for me, but I received one that really caught my attention. The parent was asking for a basketball coach. Keep in mind that when I hear basketball coach, I think of a guy that coaches a team. Someone that runs a practice and coaches games and manages time and score. I realized that most people do not understand the difference between a coach and a trainer. I went on to explain to the parent that I am not a coach since I don’t have a team. I began to clarify that I am the guy that gets the players ready for the coach. Well, it turned out she was looking for a Basketball trainer. They were on a team and the coach wasn’t helping their child get better. I proceeded to tell the parent that her coaches’ job is not to do training with them, but to help them become better team players.

Most parents and players think that a basketball coach and basketball trainer is the same. In my opinion, they are not. Both are equally important. The easiest way to sum this up is that a coach is like a general in the army. He strategizes and looks at the big picture. He puts the soldiers in the right position for battle. The trainer is like the drill sergeant. He gets the soldiers ready for the general. The general is similar to the drill sergeant and vice versa, but they are clearly different. Both have the same goal: to win. One wants to win the war and the other wants to win the battle.

Based on what we have established; who would be better at training your child, the basketball coach or the basketball trainer? Clearly, the basketball trainer would be better suited for training your child. The basketball trainer’s mindset is different. As a basketball trainer I enjoy footwork, how to attack the opponent, euro-steps, reverse pivots… just writing about it, gets me excited!! I like drills more than I like plays. I care nothing about wins and losses. I believe my players will win most of their games if they are more skilled and have a higher basketball IQ than the opponent. I find no pleasure in 2-3 zones or the dribble drive offense. As a college coach at a division one school, my responsibilities consisted of recruiting new players, mentoring, coaching, scouting our opponents and training our student athletes. I only enjoyed training and recruiting. I was good at all of them, but was great at recruiting and training.

Who would be better to coach your kid’s team; the basketball coach or basketball trainer?  Clearly, it’s the basketball coach. I wish I were a basketball coach. They have a special way of getting various personalities together and win games. A basketball coach’s job is more difficult than a basketball trainer. It’s more than just coaching games, it’s dealing with parents, scheduling, managing playing time, finding gyms and the list goes on.

If you ask any coach, he would tell you deep down inside, he would rather coach a two-hour game than do a one-hour private lesson. The worst thing is to have a basketball coach training your child. I have friends that are coaches and do lessons on the side for extra money. They all tell me that doing lessons or training is boring. They continue to watch the clock because the time goes by too slow!!! They are negative about the kids and parents; they do the same curriculum over and over (they watch YouTube to get new drills). They would rather run plays than run drills. It’s sad… But what is that coach supposed to do when parents are bugging him to train their kid at the tune of $50 an hour for training? He is now responsible for training that kid and also be responsible for their playing time, which at times this can be complicated. If the player isn’t getting a sufficient amount of playing time, the parents get upset. And if they get too much playing time the other parents feel that the player is shown favoritism because of the lessons or trainings. This can become a problem, in my experience the coach never wins.

Back in the day we didn’t have basketball trainers. The basketball coach was everything. This game has evolved to the point where we have specialist; “The Basketball Coach” who orchestrates the group/team and “The Basketball Trainer” specializes in the individual. We need both, one isn’t more important than the other. Balance is the key to everything. If the coach and trainer works together, the basketball world would be much better! Now, that you have been educated, please choose your basketball coach and basketball trainer wisely!!

Your Basketball Trainer,

Terrence “TJ” Jones