This is the first season, in 12 seasons, that I do not have a team. There are certain things that I will not miss (i.e. fundraising, pressure to recruit but disguise it, end of season banquets) but if I am honest I really miss having a team. Every team requires something new to create and all kinds of problems to solve. Coaching provides this amazing laboratory of creation and cultivation.  Bringing things out of nothing, and then making them grow, little by little, every single day. As you plant the seeds of the season this preseason I wanted to point out 3 things that I have learned being away from a team in hopes that it might encourage you to be the best coach a person could ever have.

Coaches make an impact one way or another: You will spend more time with your players than their parents will over the next few months. You will impact them, period. It will either be negative, positive, or most likely a mixture of both. Embrace the fact that you are on the front lines. Allow the positive impact to sink in, learn to apologize after the negative impacts. Sometimes it is easy to get weary when you are in the trenches, but know you are making a difference.

Short term consistency leads to long term achievement: One of the greatest challenges, but most rewarding experiences, is trying to be consistent.  A friend of mine once told me that a professional is “someone who works in a way where you can’t tell if they love or hate their job that day”. There is something mature and professional about people that are consistent. Wake up every day, put a good days work in and move the needle forward just a little bit. That’s what a pro does. The season is a grind because growth is incremental, but the joy of the season comes in knowing that you and your team faithfully and consistently got just a little bit better.

Lead with a smile: From a “frown-aholic” I will tell you that there is very little that impacts or infects more than smiles and frowns.  A wise mentor told me one time “make people earn frowns, not smiles”. Much of my coaching career was about my kids earning a smile and all that it leads to is a dysfunctional environment, exhaustion, and a willingness to settle for less joy than coaching provides. The first discipline I would implement in my program if I had a team again is walk into the gym every day with a smile.

Coaching changes lives, and everyone needs a coach. You are one of the most important people in your community and the job that you have is something of incredible significance. From a guy with no team to a bunch of coaches with a team: smile, have fun, and stay the course.  You have the coolest job in the world. Have a great season.

Matt King currently serves as the Executive Director of the Arizona Basketball Coaches Association and the Director of Basketball for CCV STARS. The ABCA focuses on connecting, developing and serving Arizona coaches and has grown from 0 to almost 800 members in the past 16 months.  CCV STARS basketball program is a youth basketball program that focuses on a More Than A Game philosophy and has grown from 800 kids annually to over 3,000 kids annually in the past 3 years. Previously,  Matt was head high school coach at O’Connor High School in Phoenix, Arizona where in 4 years the program went from 6 wins to being in the top 10 in 6A in Arizona.  Before O’Connor Matt was the head coach at Clovis High School for 3 years where the Wildcats made it to the State 5A semi-finals and State 5A Championship game.  Coach King has also worked with USA basketball for the past 8 1/2 years in a variety of roles including clinic speaker and lead clinician.  He also helped write the curriculum for the USAB player development model and served as a copywriter with the Jr. NBA and USA Basketball in writing the youth guidelines. Matt is married to his beautiful wife Michelle, has two kids, Madison (7) and MIkayla (10) and they reside in Phoenix, Arizona.