“The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.”

/Chinese Proverb

Warning long-post: at least 10 minute read. If you’re not into this kind of stuff, go watch some 5 minute cat videos on YouTube instead.

This journey has taken me further than I could have imagined. Now I am two whole seasons behind as a youth basketball coach, finding myself on my way to the third. Many things has happened in the past season and many are yet to happen. Now I am transfering from one U16-2 boys team to two teams: U16-3 boys and U16 girls. Both for good reasons to further challange myself and develop my coaching skills and abilities. This was a great season with my U16-2 boys team. This is recap of all the things I learned and discovered in 2017/2018 season as a youth basketball coach.

Leadership matters. Now I would put this on par with Organisation which I discovered as one of the most crucial aspects of the managament of youth basketball team on my first season as a youth basketball coach. Not just leadership, but leading by example as much as it is possible. My advantage is that I am still playing myself. I could invite boys to my games and they could look how coach is playing. It also made me to do my best to my best ability when I knew they were watching. I had to set example and am still learning how to do it properly and correctly. Never ending story – keep learning everyday. Very important to read about great leaders in history, read autobiographies and learn principles of leadership (as in philosophy, psychology and spirituality). Everything you do – team sees and talks about, then after some time they start to follow and adapt themselves to the example. It will happen especially fast if it is accepted and respected by whole organisation and if it goes along with their own vision of success. Biggest bonus is if by following your example they are bettering themselves in this world and getting noticed from higher ranks in organisation. That’s a complete leadership win.

Keep going. Even if you think you can’t. This was something I had coming for myself crushing down. With my newly found passion for the ball and abitions to become best possible coach I can – reality started to kick in and take toll on me. It started to get hard to juggle work with family (little baby) and the basketball gym with everything it brought with it. I had to coach and attend the games, to do that I had to learn. I also had to train and attend those games aswell. Everything was taking time. Everything was making a pressure. I knew I have to keep going, but I didn’t know how. Mental meltdown at some point. First person to pull me back up was leader of our club Konstantin. I must thank him once again for keeping me up in the game and running. After that I was able to pick up some stuff from books, videos and blogs on hardening up to keep going. It’s still not a piece of cake, but if there is one thing I’ve learned: pain doesn’t go away, you just learn to live with it. So if there comes a point where you think you can’t anymore, then just push through. Find a solution and execute, keep going. If it doesn’t work – repeat. If you still feel going down – get a mentor to help you, to pull you up, to keep you in the game for one last time. Big chances are (from experience of many successful people and leaders) – you will be able to pull yourself and the whole situation together just fine and come out just with some bruises. Keep going, world relies on you.

You are two people away from connecting to billion. This is the idea I heard from Jordan Peterson in one of his lectures put up on Internet. Brilliant personality and teacher. The more I thought about it and looked around myself I found new ways to connect with people and make new friends and collegues. In ones lifetime one will earn at least 1000 friends and collegues. Now you are at one million, of course each of them will acquire also at least 1000 friends and collegues – that brings us up to one billion. Yes, sometimes it looks like each of one of us are just small, insignificant beings on this rock floating around in small solar system, but that’s not the case. We are part of smart, intelligent network just few string away of making it count. I like to talk to people and connect with them, make friends and collegues. Work together. The more I do that, the easier it gets. Someone knows someone, that someone knows someone else. Do your thing, do it well and people will work with you. Together you make this World a better place. Remember – you are two people away from a billion.

Mental game plays a huge role. This could be the headlife of this season with my U16-2 boys. If you browse this blog for the game recaps I wrote of the season you will notice, that we struggled with mental blocks the whole time. It took many hours of research and looking for solutions, talking to mentors and other coaches. Never underestimate the mental game. Discipline, habits, effort, work ethic, attitude… All those things make up the mental game. Super important. I could but this right after top 1 in list, that is Organisation and Leadership.

Learn the rules religiously and get to know the referee side. One single thing that made me better as a player and a coach at the games was getting my basketball referee license. Turned my game understanding and dealing with referees to 180 degrees. As I started to referee some low-league youth basketball games it was enough for me to understand how the referees sees us. I was already pretty good at looking from other peoples perspectives to things, but this was a game changer. Now I spend also more time teaching rules to my players and making them understand the game better through them. Also teaching them how the referee sees the game. Some even made their licenses and it helped me to spread the message among the players as it is better if players hear information not just from coach, but also among themselves.


Wins doesn’t matter. Player development does. When all is said and done (or thrown and rebounded) wins doesn’t matter. Players won’t remember the particular won or lost games. What they will remember is if you made them better players or not. Better human beings or not. Wether under your watch they suffered or developed themselves. If at the season end you can say you won the most possible games, but players suffered from that – I dare to say you suck, it’s wrong and please stop doing that or stop coaching. After a long season we finished at low end of the table and I don’t regret a second not taking wins over the player development. I saw my guys develop training by training, game by game and if it meant to lose most of them – be it, but they got better and more experienced through that. They might not have won this season, but I know for sure it made them better for future seasons and future teams. Never sacrifice player development over a win. Never.

If it is your calling – follow it. This is according to the quote at the start of the post. I hadn’t decided what to do and the best option would have been to start coaching and learning this stuff before ten years, but I am where I am. The second best time is to do it now. If you ever come to realization that you have missed something – just do it now. Past doesn’t matter, look in the future.

After all this I must thank my club BC Hellenen München it’s leadership and all the people (especially my boys of U16-2) there for all the given possibilities and trust they have put in me over these two seasons and everything that is to follow for the next one. We are going for the greatness.


Coach Valts