• Header-CoachCommissioner

Training Topics

  • Large-BKL


Training Topics

  • Below are some essential topics that should be covered in your Coach Training Conference. 

    Mission of Upward Sports

    In defining the Upward Basketball Coach, we explained how the mission is in the hands of the coach. Coaches need to know what that mission is so that he or she will know the impact he or she will have. Open the training conference by covering the mission statement and each of the core values of Upward Sports.

    Mission Statement:
    To introduce children to Jesus Christ by creating opportunities to serve through sports.


    Responsibilities of an Upward Basketball Coach
    An Upward Basketball Coach should:

    • Create and build relationships with the players
    • Teach how each player can have a growing relationship with the Lord
    • Share his/her relationship with the Lord through his/her words and actions
    • Develop and protect the self-esteem of each player
    • Teach the fundamental skills of the sport
    • Understand the sport and rules unique to Upward Basketball
    • Make practice and games a positive competitive experience

    Communicating with Children
    Communication is vital between a coach and his or her players. In terms of basketball, communication on defense can make the difference between a good defensive stand and giving up a basket. The same collapse can happen in a relationship between a coach, a player and his or her family. Here are a few tips about communicating with players:Create a positive environment by speaking to each player as he or she arrives at practices and games each week, greeting him or her with enthusiasm.

    • Prepare for this time as this may be a player’s first time participating in a sports league.
    • In all your interactions, speak on the child’s level; this is very important when explaining drills for the first time and sharing weekly devotions.
    • When distributing stars on game day, give specific reasons why each child earned his or her star.
    • Body language speaks volumes; be aware of your actions and reactions on and off the court.

    The communication approach and style will differ depending on the division a coach is coaching. Click here for some information about the developmental characteristics and interests of school age children that can help coaches maximize their time with their players.

    Distributing Player Items

    Coaches are responsible for distributing player items at practice. Ideally, coaches should have their team boxes for the first practice. This allows distribution of the player items at the end of practice so players can learn the scripture verse for the second practice. Educate the coaches on distributing these items. The following should be shared with coaches:

    • Each player kit will have the player’s name located on the box.
    • Use the coach training kit to explain player items (practice cards, Scriptunes CD, etc…) and encourage coaches to include parents when explaining each of the items. If you are a returning church, be sure to cover all new items.
    • Practice cards are distributed at each practice whereas the Upward Sports Gospel Tool and Upward Sports Gospel Card will be distributed at practice seven.
    Conflict Resolution and Communication

    At practices and during the season, the coach addresses any problems parents have when it comes to his or her team. For example, if a parent feels the substitution rule is unfair because it does not ensure that the best players are always on the court, a coach can refer the parent to the explanation of the Upward Basketball Substitution System in either the Parent’s Guide to Upward Basketball or the Coach Playbook. The coach will direct any unresolved problems to his or her coach commissioner.

    Since coaches report directly to the commissioner, they serve as spokespeople to the league for the parents of children on their teams. All parental concerns should channel as follows:


    Communication to Parents
    One of the coach’s main obligations is to communicate league information to parents about important things such as practice times, game schedules and snack needs. The coach should recruit a team parent to help organize snacks for game days, distribute information about picture day and communicate league news to other parents on the team.

    Opportunities to Minister
    Coaches will interact with children and parents twice a week. This interaction occurs at a one-hour practice each week and a one-hour game each week. This provides opportunities to minister to the children and their families. The main focus of Upward Basketball is introducing children to Jesus Christ. This is accomplished through a coach that can deliver an equally strong ministry and sport experience to players. That is the Upward Experience. In Upward Basketball, few can reach a child or lead a family to Christ more effectively than a coach. Encourage coaches to pray daily for their team members and to be sensitive to the spiritual condition of each family.

    Practice Devotions
    Practice devotions are a major part of the ministry of Upward Basketball. All coaches will conduct practice devotions focusing on salvation, character and self-esteem. Devotions will be centered on a theme and will have a correlating verse each week for the players to learn. Verses will be made available to players through practice cards. Devotion guides are included in the coach playbook. These devotions should be presented at practices, not at games. Coaches will need to prepare for each week’s devotion prior to practice. Some devotions call for object lessons, which is great for visual learners. Devotion time should be personal, intentional and a time devoted to Scripture learning and prayer. Coaches should study the devotion carefully and prayerfully.

    It is important for the coach to attend all practices and games. If a head coach cannot attend, he or she should make sure the assistant coach or another adult familiar with Upward Basketball will be present. Remember that a Christian coach should present the practice devotions.

    Coach and Referee Interactions
    Another responsibility coaches have is to support referees during games with positive comments. Calls are going to be missed, moments are going to be intense and the reactions of coaches are going to be the defining moments of your season. Emphasize this at every opportunity. Young players will learn from the actions of their coaches. Coaches who provide an example of respect for authority will help to accomplish one of the goals of Upward Basketball. Remember, people care more about what you do than they do about what you say.

    Establishing Practice Plans
    It is important for coaches to be prepared for each practice. A coach should spend at least 30 minutes preparing for practice. Encourage coaches to take advantage of the Coach’s Sideline for each week’s practice. The Coach’s Sideline is an 11-week practice plan designed to deliver the Upward Experience for each player. Content includes: age appropriate skills & drills, rules, skill games, Scripture learning and devotions. For more information on the Coach's Sidelines, click here.

    Skills and Drills

    Remember, the Upward Experience is where solid ministry components and great sport instruction meet. That sport instruction comes from teaching skills through drills. Utilize the coach training DVD and coach website to walk coaches through a series of drills. Emphasize the importance of players improving their skills. Tips to share with your coaches:

    • Carefully explain skills and drills in a manner that players can easily understand
    • Introduce no more than two new skills at a time
    • Take time to demonstrate each drill
    • Repetition, Repetition, Repetition
    Rules Unique to Upward Basketball

    The rules unique to Upward Basketball are designed to provide the best sports experience for every child. These rules should be covered in detail for coaches. This includes:

    • Game Format
    • Substitution System
    • Rules for Game Play

    For a complete list of rules unique to Upward Basketball, click here.


    Game Day Attitude
    One of the key points in becoming an effective Upward Basketball Coach is choosing the right game day attitude.  Actions and reactions on the court will have a lasting effect that either opens or closes the door to ministry. The Circle of Criticism and Circle of Affirmation are simple concepts created to illustrate the results associated with negative and positive feedback given to the referee. Go through a demonstration of each of these at training. Let coaches see the difference a positive reaction can be. For example, a volunteer referee calls a foul on a defensive player that stole the ball cleanly. In the Circle of Criticism, the coach lets that referee know how bad he missed that call. This leads to the parents berating the referee along with the players. This is a vicious cycle to start. In the Circle of Affirmation, a positive moment would be highlighted from that play. The coach says, “Hey Nick, good job, great defense, next time don’t reach in to get the ball, way to hustle.” Knowing a call was missed, the coach elects to build up his player vs. tearing down the referee.  

    For more on coaches' game day attitude, click here.

    Distributing Upward Basketball Stars
    Upward Basketball Stars are given out after every game and are the key tool for coaches to use in building the self-esteem of players. Coaches should provide a specific reason as to why a player is receiving that star. This makes the difference between receiving a star and receiving an Upward Basketball Star. For example, an Upward Basketball Star presentation would be, “Today, Nicholas, you get the red star for defense. You covered your assigned man the whole time, you didn’t have any fouls, and you didn’t allow anyone to get a shot off.  Great Job!” Presentation is everything.

    For a complete listing and definition of Upward Basketball Award Stars, click here.