How did you build successful basketball programs

28 Sep

As I enter into my 8th year at Montverde Academy, I am often asked two very interesting questions?
1. Why would you leave a “basketball hot bed” like the Washington DC area, one of the best conferences (Washington Catholic Athletic Conference) to come to a “football state” like Florida?
2. How did you build your basketball program into one of the top programs in the country in only 7 years?
Interestingly enough I followed the same format with all three programs that I built: Montrose Christian – 1999, Bishop McNamara – 2001-2003 and now Montverde Academy – 2003 to the present. In this blog I will describe the process I used in the terms of Phases.
Phase One: Crawl before you walk:
In this phase, it is very important that you do INTROSPECTION. Look inside yourself and at yourself. Here is the list of things that I did to help me successfully build all three of my programs:
1. I had to define myself as a coach. My principals, my beliefs and my expectations. What I would and would not compromise.
2. I had to define what Success was to me. “I feel that success is the byproduct of doing right things, making good choices and decisions consistently over time”.
3. I asked myself, how important is longevity? Did I want my program to be a “flash in the pan” or a program that was good “year in and year out”.
4. What are the criteria I look for in a prospective student-athletes?
a. They must be serious about THEIR academics. They have to want to be educated.
b. They must be young men of Character and not boys who are characters
c. They must be passionate about the game of basketball
d. They must be a good teammate
e. They must be coachable
Phase Two: Walk before you run:
After my initial Introspection, I started to develop my plan of action to help me fulfill my dream of building my programs:

1. I developed my Mission Statement. A statement that says who we are and what we stand for.

2. I developed my Vision Statement. A statement that says where we are going and how we are going to get there.

3. I developed by Mantra (tag line if you will) for my program: Luke 12:48 – To whom much is given, much is expected.
4. I developed my three year plan for success. This plan became my road map to which I follow. This gave me tangible things that were important and essential to us becoming a successful basketball program.
Phase Three: Run before fly:
This phase is so important. Everything that you do in this phase is a direct reflection of your ability as a leader/mentor and coach. During this phase your every move will be under scrutiny by the administration, by the parents, by the players, your fellow educators and your opponents. This is the phase where you must do the following:
1. Select your staff
2. Make hard decisions
3. Carry yourself with professionalism
4. Internally and externally within your school community you must develop and maintain relationships
5. Become the salesman of the program. Create “buy in” and excitement.
6. Change the “culture/mentality”
7. Start to develop your talent
8. Start to develop your talent pool, feeder program(s) varsity jv. freshman, middle school
9. Start to develop your philosophies/identity as they pertain to the teaching and running of your system( ex. transition game, man and zone offenses etc)
10. Start to put things in place that forces others to take notice of what you doing.(ex community service.
Phase Four: Fly before you are able to SOAR!!!!!
In this phase perceptions/opinions and labels will start to be thrown around about you as the head coach, your staff, your players and your program. You will have successfully navigated your way through the first three phases. The following terms will be helpful to set you apart as a head coach from the masses:
1. accountability
2. responsibility
3. flexibility
4. teacher
5. communicator
6. visibility
7. tough minded
8. fair
9. caring
10. trust worthy
11. knowledgeable
12. winner….

…… with consistency and time your program will become SUCCESSFUL!

“First come thought; then organization of that thought into ideas and plans;

Then transformation of these plans into reality. The beginning, as you observe,
is in your imagination” – Napolean Hill author of Think and Grow Rich

What steps do you take to build a successful program?


2 Responses to “How did you build successful basketball programs”

  1. Mcgriff September 30, 2010 at 12:48 PM #

    Coach Sutton, outstanding job with the blog. You are very much detail oriented. Continue impacting young people.

  2. Romel Jackson September 18, 2012 at 10:27 PM #

    Love this article.

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