BUILDING TEAM UNITY
By Dean Smith; Naismith Hall of Fame/NCAA Champion Coach
My philosophy is team unity — basketball is a team game. We can’t succeed unless we do
it as a team. Point out to the players that everyone must play defense. It is important to
have goals for team unity. Points are not the only thing. You need each other. Team
play is built in practice. One idea is to have an emphasis of the day, and then give credit
during a practice to those players that are accomplishing that emphasis. Players must be
aware that if they let down at any time they are hurting the team.
Building Team Unity:
1. Do not let one teammate yell at another.
2. No one is perfect. Have you ever seen a perfect game by a basketball
3. A player needs encouragement when he makes a mistake. You must care
about the last man as much as you care about your stars.
4. Never substitute on a mistake. If a player is trying, what more can you
5. Respect every player on the team.
6. A life lesson is tolerance for one another. We should go out of our way to
respect and satisfy each and every person, even though Society evaluates
success by the number of wins and losses.
7. Build a respect and rapport between player and coach.
8. Praise correct performance and effort.
9. Players on the bench should always stand and applaud team plays and
players coming to the sidelines following a substitution.
10. Give emphasis to unselfishness among team members and to give credit to
the players who do the little things.
11. Acknowledge the passer. Point your finger to the player. (Give both a
verbal and physical response.).
12. Always have players on the floor let you know when they are tired (we do
it by having them raised a fist). Starters usually come out of five to six
times in a game.
13. Get players to go as hard on defense as they do on offense.
14. Stress constantly recognizing the need for each other.
15. After a game, try to give recognition to the opposing coach.
16. Why do we run sprints? For PRIDE. We think we are in better shape than
the other players. Sprints help build team morale.
17. Convince your players not to let their teammates down. The best way to
build team unity is to teach players at the correct way to play the game is
to play hard. Secondly, players must understand that every player is
18. Emphasize to the seniors that this is their team; they will make the rules
and the coaches will force them. Do not allow any phony rules — they
hurt team unity.
19. A player want to be disciplined; this helps to develop both team and selfdiscipline.
Give a player a second chance when it is appropriate.
Practice sessions become game situations for team unity. Prepare your young players for
entry into the game. A young substitute is better for one minute and a tired star. If you
see someone loafing and you do not take him out, he will never give the tired signal.
Allow your seniors to come to you with problems, not names. Your success as a coach is
the attendant upon your ability to instill teamwork and develop team unity.