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Six Tips for Professional Development

All coaches ponder it: am I the best coach I can possibly be? Professional development is an important aspect of coaching—especially at the high school level, where coaches encounter younger, inexperienced athletes and even have the opportunity to advance to the college ranks.

Someone who knows this well is Rich Czeslawski, Head Boys’ Basketball Coach at Crystal Lake Central (Ill.) High School, founder of Basketball Worldwide, Inc., and COO of Pure Sweat Basketball.  He has also served as an Executive Board Member and the Director of Development and Communications for the Illinois Basketball Coaches Association since 2005 and has held the same title with the National High School Basketball Coaches Association since 2010.

In an interview obtained by, Czeslawski offered six of his best tips that have helped him improve his craft over the course of a nearly 13-year coaching career at Crystal Lake Central.

  1. “Think outside of the box.”
    Czeslawski is a firm believer that coaches need to constantly be thinking innovatively—instead of favoring the systems they may have used during their time as an athlete or other times in their careers. If not, things can quickly turn stale.  Czeslawski tells coaches to “flip your thinking. Try to identify what your team is focusing on defending, then make sure you’re good at exploiting the same thing offensively,” according to Krossover. “Approaching the game this way allows you to coach smarter.”

  2. “Scout your opponents.”
    While there are many ways to do this, Czeslawski uses game film to analyze the opposition’s offensive strengths and to “figure out how to take their opportunities away. It helps him know exactly what to focus on,” Krossover states in the article.

  3. “Don’t burn out or get distracted.”
    It’s vital for coaches to “stay in the moment,” rather than spend energy on multitasking and losing focus on the task at hand. “Coaches who try to keep stats during a game are doing themselves a disservice,” Czeslawski told Krossover. “You should be able to focus on what’s actually happening in the game, not how many points each player has.”

Equally important is the role head coaches have in ensuring their assistants and volunteers don’t feel burned out from too much responsibility. Likewise, athletic departments can play a part as well. “Forcing a coach to do all the video prep work alone can be exhausting,” according to Krossover. “Athletic Directors should give their coaches the tools and resources to succeed so that their quality people stick around longer.”

  1. “Favor transformational coaching over transactional coaching.”
    “Demanding specific results or outcomes from a player is much less effective than focusing on the process of holistic player development,” states Krossover in the article. “Coaching players to buy in to their role and the team mindset is the goal, not simply hitting statistical benchmarks.”

To do so, Czeslawski favors reviewing video footage as an aide to gain buy-in from his student-athletes. According to Krossover, “when you can show them supporting evidence to back up your lineup decisions and overall strategy, you’re more likely to transform your team into more complete players and more responsible people.”

  1. “Game film isn’t just for the coaches.”
    Allowing athletes to learn from game film has endless benefits, especially when it comes to recruiting and preparing student-athletes for the transition into collegiate competition. Krossover explains that Czeslawski “shows his kids the most important clips during team meetings, but empowers his players wath things in more detail on their own. It gives them an opportunity to take responsibility and get more invested in the team.”  

  2. “You still have to coach.”
    It’s easy to get caught up in your own professional development as a coach, but coaches ultimately need to remember that everything boils down their ability to “foster relationships with players, develop their athletes, challenge them, and create a winning culture,” states Krossover in the article. “Having access to game film, analytics, and technology is great, but it isn’t everything. Coaches need to step back and think about what story the numbers are telling them.”

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  • PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT: Ways to help your coaches be the best they can be