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How to Make a Basketball Team: 8 Ways to Build an Exceptional Squad

A basketball team stands in a circle with one arm each outstretched and hands layered in the center.

How to Make a Basketball Team: 8 Ways to Build an Exceptional Squad

From “The Bad News Bears” to “The Mighty Ducks,” Hollywood has released a steady supply of sports films that follow down-on-their-luck coaches who are tasked with transforming a group of misfits from underdogs into champions. While the comedic hijinks of such films rarely pay off in the real world, the message of working together to achieve a common goal can be applied to and inspire success in any group effort or sports team, including basketball.

Quite often, the genesis of a championship basketball team takes place off the court as much as it does on. Players with established trust and personal connections can persevere through physical and mental obstacles.

Indeed, undeniable team chemistry can produce incredible results. We’ll cover some winning methods that basketball coaches can use to help mold their players into athletes who operate with integrity, exhibit true sportsmanship and function together as a powerhouse of team unity.

Qualities of a Great Basketball Team

Before we start exploring how to make a basketball team, it’s important to understand what qualities make a championship basketball team. Here are a few key traits to cultivate:

  • Grit: Players with grit and heart persevere through adversity, exhibit unwavering drive and do whatever it takes to win through sheer determination and perseverance.
  • Communication: Players earn respect and build camaraderie by openly communicating with coaches and teammates on and off the court through positive body language, attitude and genuine interactions.
  • Leadership: The best teams have influential leaders who inspire teammates on and off the court by creating a positive environment, encouraging excellence and fostering open communication and camaraderie.
  • Commitment: Dedicated players sacrifice their time and ego for the good of the team, willing to play any role and defend any matchup.
  • Patience: Championship teams recognize game situations and are disciplined enough to pull back, slow things down, burn the clock and avoid unnecessary risks rather than forcing low-percentage shots with a late lead.
  • Poise: The best teams stay poised in pressure-packed end-of-game situations by embracing the challenge, blocking out distractions, focusing on the task at hand and overcoming any mistakes with resilience.
A youth boy's basketball team stands looking off camera, wearing Imperial Point custom sublimated uniforms with three players holding basketballs.

How to Build an Exceptional Basketball Team

Constructing a cohesive, championship-caliber basketball team takes more than just recruiting talent and running drills. It requires building character qualities through thoughtful coaching strategies and team-building efforts. By focusing on the following fundamentals, coaches can mold a motivated, resilient squad united by trust and a common purpose:

1. Lead by Example

A successful team begins and ends with its coach. How a coach conducts business, addresses players, handles adversity and even dresses will be observed and emulated by the team. Therefore, a wise coach will set a good example for players to follow—both on and off the court—by being honest, trustworthy and respectful toward others. 

A great coach must be able to adapt to different game situations, altering offensive systems as needed. They understand which plays and player combinations work best against the other team. They make sound strategic decisions and bring out the full potential of their players and teams.

2. Identify the Right Team Captains

Selecting the right team captains is essential in building an exceptional team. Regardless of age, rank or seniority, assign team captains with a solid moral compass who uphold the ideals and principles of the team, league and sport. Able to remain positive in defeat and humble in victory, ideal team captains will be natural leaders willing to help motivate teammates in and out of the game. A solid team captain can assist with coaching and conditioning duties and relate to their teammates on the same level—inspiring them to remain focused, accountable and on a straight path.

3. Practice Fun Team-Building Activities

Not every drill has to be an intense workout. Fun games and exercises can be equally effective at building trust, communication and dependability. Any team will enjoy the challenge of entertaining, problem-solving warm-ups such as:

  • The Tangled Knot – Five players stand facing themselves in a circle. Each player must reach out and grab the arm or hand of another player. Then, with their other hand, they must hold on to the arm or hand of a different player to form a tangled circle. They must then work together to untangle themselves without letting go and breaking their hold. This exercise builds strong communication skills to help players connect under pressure.
  • The Disappearing Chairs – Place four armless chairs so each faces a different wall. Players sit sideways and lie back on their teammate’s lap. One by one, each chair is removed until the players are left supporting each other’s weight. This game illustrates how players must lean on and support their teammates.

4. Maintain Team Chemistry off the Court

Basketball shouldn’t be your team’s only commonality. Aside from workouts, practices and away-game bus trips, teammates and coaches should make a concerted effort to get to know each other more personally outside of school. It’s been proven that players who emotionally invest in their teammates’ lives build strong, lasting bonds. From those bonds, a shorthand is developed between teammates, facilitating communication and increased performance.

Some proven team-bonding opportunities include:

  • Weekly dinners: Everyone has to eat. That’s why team meals are the most simple yet effective opportunities for players to build fellowship while nourishing their bodies and souls.
  • Community service projects: Making a difference in the community through volunteer charity work at a food pantry, local shelter or senior home will strengthen players’ resolve, lift their spirits and build character.
  • Team fundraisers: Car washes, spirit drives and other campaigns for team donations can instill healthy competitiveness between players and encourage an entrepreneurial drive to support the team financially.
  • Movie nights: Nothing brings people closer than a shared experience. A night at the movies can be just what is needed to break the ice and bring a team together through laughter and tears. Some great basketball movies include the classic “Hoosiers” or “Teen Wolf.” Although they’re not sports flicks, the inspirational “Rudy” and the hilarious “The Sandlot” are always crowd-pleasers.

5. Stay Engaged During the Off-Season

Basketball may be the only positive thing in a player’s life. When the season ends, coaches must stay vigilant to ensure their players don’t succumb to negative outside influences and distractions. Coaches should remain present throughout the summer to prevent idle hands and keep a team fit and focused. They can stay an active and influential figure in players’ lives throughout the off-season by maintaining team rituals and creating additional opportunities for team building, such as a weekend camping trip or team getaway to the beach.

Coaches must also remember to develop relationships with their players’ parents and guardians. By reaching out for support and establishing steady lines of communication, coaches can gain valuable insight into their players’ lives and learn of any hobbies or personal issues that could affect the team and their performance on the court.

6. Remove Toxicity, Regardless of Talent

Coaches should know which characteristics best suit their team and which will hinder it. When scouting for recruits, talent should not be the sole focus. Just because a player possesses athleticism and skill, it does not necessarily qualify them as a team member. Instead, coaches should look for players who embody an attitude that will mesh with their team. There have been coaches who have cut talented players because of their—or even their parents’—negative attitude, while other coaches have kept less talented players on the roster because of their positive influence on the team’s dynamic. It’s imperative to avoid anything (or anyone) that can disrupt, distract or otherwise negatively impact the team’s unity. One bad apple will spoil the bunch.

7. Stress Teamwork Over Individuality

“There is no ‘I’ in team” is a well-worn cliché, but players must live by it and understand that no individual player is greater than the team’s common goal. Coaches must be on the lookout for any cracks in team chemistry and course correction immediately. Star players can easily get caught up in their hype and feel entitled to extra minutes and shot opportunities. A good way to deflate elevated egos and keep players humble is to establish an offense that isn’t run through one specific player. If every player has an equal shot at the ball, no one will feel neglected or marginalized and winning will feel like more of a team effort.

8. Unite Your Team with Custom Jerseys

Most coaches recycle jerseys from one varsity squad to the next until they require replacement. Receiving a faded, worn-out, hand-me-down can feel like a crushing defeat for a player. A tired jersey lowers their confidence and makes them feel like another undervalued wheel cog. By cutting corners, those coaches are missing out on a tremendous opportunity to show an investment in their players and skyrocket the team’s morale.

Through the visible unity of custom basketball uniforms, coaches can strengthen the bond between players and empower them with a shared sense of pride and ownership in their team. Such a dynamic team spirit boost will reflect their attitude and in-game performance.

Get High-Quality, Custom Jerseys for Your Basketball Team

At Imperial Point, we provide high-quality, custom jerseys for men’s basketball and women’s basketball to make your team look and feel like the pros. Affordable and durable, our unique sublimated printing technique allows us to produce vibrant jerseys that won’t fade, peel or crack with use. And, with our custom uniform designer, your players can contribute to their team’s style, identity and legacy through various fonts, colors, patterns and breathable materials!

Inspire your players and solidify team chemistry with affordable, personalized basketball jerseys from Imperial Point. Call us today at 1-800-801-4884 or start your custom design online.

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