Developing talent and work ethic... It starts with teaching fundamentals and having a good work ethic, beginning in youth and middle school practices and progressing up. Planning practices is vital. We start with little kids clinics, 2nd-4th graders (boys and girls). Summer camps, team camps, individual camps are all important. We encourage the kids to just get out in the driveway and practice outside when the weather is nice.
Changing attitudes... A team that loses a lot expects to lose. Winning teams expect to win. When taking over a program that has not been winning, attitudes have to change... and this can be a huge obstacle. Changing attitudes involves many things and takes time. Losing will no longer be "accepted", but something to learn from. Players, parents, and the community must believe that with hard work, learning fundamentals, and good coaching, things can and will change. There must be a dedication to the cause. Celebrate victories, large or small, team or personal. Impart a positive, upbeat approach. Be someone the kids like being around. Have fun. Make everything competitive... games, practices, drills, etc. Develop pride in your system and your school.
Dressing up for games is important. We have our boys varsity players and our coaches wear our school sweater vest with logo, a white shirt and tie, and khaki slacks. It's an honor to wear that sweater vest. Players feel a sense of pride when they dress up for games.
Building a "legacy"... after you begin achieving some success and have a few winning seasons, you want to promote this from year to year and keep it going. We talk about developing our legacy... not just one or two good teams, but good teams year after year. Former players will come back from time to time to watch a game, or to practice with us, or scrimmage against us... graduates are still part of our basketball family.
Setting goals... set challenging goals for your program, your teams, and individual players. Then have a plan to accomplish each of these goals. These goals will depend on where you are with your program. Winning the state championship...maybe not. Winning the conference... maybe. Winning over 50% of your games this year, conference title next year... yes! Whatever they are, have something you are looking to achieve.
Communicate... Rumors and suspicion oftentimes start because of poor communication. Communicate with players, coaches, administration, parents, student body, and community. This is discussed in more detail in Building a Basketball Program.
Lastly, maintain balance... The late coach Al McGuire once said, "Don't let coaching become your mistress." In other words, maintain balance in your life and don't always choose basketball over your family, and everything else. Also remember that at the high school and middle school levels, kids and parents may not be as fanatical about basketball as you are. It's not like a college program where players must "love it" or hit the road. Allow them to be kids and have balance in their own lives.
See: Building a Basketball Program