5 Traits of Great Basketball Leaders

Become a better basketball leader by learning about the traits that made all-time greats like Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant leaders.

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Basketball leaders are made, not born, with qualities developed through their experiences both on and off the court. Great court leaders, like Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant, learn from their failures and use them to improve their ability to motivate, inspire and ultimately to win. Like anything else, if you want to improve your leadership skills, you must devote effort and attention. However, you also need to understand the special qualities of basketball leadership. Review the five traits discussed below, and use them to mold yourself into one of the most respected players in your league.


Character is what defines you as a person. It is the sum of your values, beliefs and behavior. One quality that is particularly valuable for basketball leadership is integrity. Players with integrity have positive values, principles and actions.  They are consistent in their beliefs,  and they strive to be a positive inspiration for their teammates and others.

Example: Before you try to motivate your teammates to play hard, evaluate your own playing level. Are you modeling the values that you want to promote?

How to Improve: Personally commit yourself to developing more consistency. If you want your teammates to work harder, make sure you are consistently working to the best of your ability. If you want your team to focus, first improve your own focus.


As a leader, you must be committed to achieving daily, weekly and ultimate goals. If you want to be a better player, commit to the work required to get there. Don't give up when it gets difficult. Stay focused on what you want to achieve.

Example: If you realize that you're not giving 100 percent effort all the time, commit to doing so.

How to Improve: Recognize the steps you need to take to improve. If you want to play at the next level, you'll have to commit time between games to develop your strength, conditioning and court skills.


How good are you at communicating with your teammates? Basketball leaders improve their teams by refocusing teammates on what matters and voicing ideas in ways that motivate, not offend, others and do not disrupt the chemistry of the team.

Example: Your teammate made a costly turnover, and your coach removed him from the game. What can you say to keep your team's confidence high?

How to Improve: Speak clearly and project your voice, watching for reactions from team members. Make sure you are motivating and inspiring others for better performance. Be sensitive to how and when you should communicate your message.


Athletes with self-discipline take the right action regardless of their emotional state. At some point, you will be tired, angry, agitated, stressed or annoyed; however, your attitude and ability to persevere should not change.

Example: A class project was due, and you stayed up late to complete it. A tough after-school practice is scheduled. How will you react? Will you stay motivated and cheerfully give 100 percent?

How to Improve: All emotional states are temporary. Refocus on the upcoming task instead of what you are feeling at the moment. Give your all, regardless of the situation.

Learning From Mistakes

No one is perfect. When you make mistakes, take the time to analyze and learn from them. Doing this will continually improve your leadership skills. You have to realize when you said the wrong thing at the wrong time. Great leaders realize when they are wrong and admit it.

Example: A teammate yells at another teammate, and you missed the opportunity to settle a heated situation.

How to Improve: Realize that you made a mistake by missing the opportunity. If the chance presents itself again, take action. If you don't have an occasion to correct your mistake, think about how you will handle a similar situation in the future.

As a player or coach, you can improve your basketball leadership traits by evaluating your character, commitment, communication style, self-discipline and ability to learn from mistakes. It will take time, effort and commitment to improve. However, the results should inspire you and help your team in the long run.

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