The Differences in Coaching: High School vs College

By Kaitlyn Fedor

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Participating in high school sports can be an integral part in the development of a teenager. For some, it's the beginning of social interaction and learning teamwork on a larger scale. Coaching high school basketball is a very coveted position as your influence will help to prepare youngsters on-and-off the court.

However, success will afford an opportunity to coach at the collegiate level, and it doesn't matter how much experience is on your resume, the challenges ahead are bigger than you could have ever imagined. Coaching college basketball is a pressure-filled job that hinges greatly on the amount of wins achieved each season. The length of your tenure is dependent upon choosing the right mix of players for your squad.

Here are the differences in coaching: high school vs college:

Juggling The NCAA Rules

One of the first mistakes made by recently-hired college basketball coaches from the high school ranks is the failure to realize the amount of NCAA rules they must adhere to over a course of a season. They range from reasonable to mind-blogging as the majority of the rules are pretty straight-forward to follow except in the area of recruiting athletes, which is vague and very confusing.

The NCAA defines recruiting as when a college coach invites a high school student/athlete to play a sport at their institution. The process can begin with a simple handshake at the various college basketball camps for high school students. The wording of the rules provides a strict guideline to the amount of interaction between high school players and college coaches at basketball clinics offered throughout the year.

The Pace of the Game

Often, the biggest difference that is quickly recognized is the intensity and pace of how college basketball is played, especially in comparison to the high school level. Coaches will have a harder time devising an effective game plan because each opponent is bigger and stronger than those faced in the past and no one can expect to outrun the opposition all night.

The pace of college basketball is too fast to gain easy drives to the basket, but your coaching talents can help players to recognize when a defender's head turns away, that's their opportunity to cut towards the basket for a quick score. Your collegiate coaching success rate will rely heavily on your player's basketball IQ. It becomes your job to instruct them to outthink and surprise the opponent with their actions on the court.

Becoming More Involved With Your Players

Some college institutions will offer bonuses in their coach's contracts based on how their athletic program performs inside the classroom. All college basketball coaches must have a good knowledge of their player's class schedules because it will help to maximize practice time.

Prior to the start of the season, an academic tutor may suggest to the squad to take on a lighter class load because of the amount of traveling that occurs during the year as this approach will help the players to remain academically-eligible. Of course, this will force players to carry larger class schedules in the fall and summer semesters. This is all part of building a quality collegiate basketball program.

So overall, we know there are differences between coaching high school and coaching college-level basketball players. One thing is for certain, your job is not easy but the goal of helping students reach their fullest potential is consistent and paramount, no matter what.