Coaching Entrepreneurship: 5 Similarities to Coaching Athletes

Coach Rey Ortega

Coaching basketball and running a company as an entrepreneur have many things in common.

Doing one alongside the other can improve you in both capacities if you deliberately work toward that goal.

I should know: I’m doing both right now.

One of the more rewarding activities I participate in is coaching the East Coast United girl’s travel basketball team of Central Florida.

It is something I started in 2018.

As any coach, I have had successful seasons alongside trying seasons.

This season, we had to learn a hard lesson, losing by one in the championship game of a tournament.

But that kind of adversity is just part of the gig, right? Just as it is for an entrepreneur.

Not every day will be full of wins, but you do what you can to win as often as possible.

But a win isn’t exactly just measured by the numbers on a scoreboard.

When you see girls move on and play in college, you keep rooting for them. It’s like seeing an intern or a young employee move on to success beyond Grata.

When you sign up to be a coach, especially in the thirteen to seventeen age group, it’s just as much about teaching as winning ballgames.

The same can be said about being an entrepreneur.

Here is a rundown of the similarities between coaching a basketball team and being an entrepreneur.

  1. The coach leads the team.

As they say, “the buck stops here.” In basketball, who gets the blame when things go wrong, and a team doesn’t execute a play? The coach, of course. It’s a heavy responsibility but one that you, as an entrepreneur, must accept with no reservations. If you start something that does not work, it’s on you to come up with an alternate strategy. In basketball. In entrepreneurship.

  1. The coach must teach.

While it’s certainly not a classroom setting (at least physically), a coach who does not teach will have a team that does not grow or improve. As entrepreneurs build their businesses, the goal is to grow as a company. Whether building a larger team or landing more clients, it all comes down to teaching the team – or learning yourself – how to be a company. It’s a tough process. There are the obvious: how to hire, increase output, and create a leadership structure. But some of the obstacles are not as obvious. What’s a good tax strategy? Where do we send our revenue to maximize its impact? All of these are teachable moments and factors.

  1. The coach motivates.

Whether through playing time, rotation, or even good old high fives, coaches must motivate their team to compete. An unmotivated team will be run over quickly by any team, with their coach pushing toward one goal. Likewise, entrepreneurs must get their team members working toward the goal they set for the business. When that happens, the business thrives and moves swiftly toward its goal.

  1. The coach strategizes.

Entrepreneurs won’t get far if they don’t have a strategy. What’s the next milestone? Where do we go from there? How can I move the pieces I have around to maximize their effectiveness? That’s what basketball coaches do. What game plan will work against a particular team? What’s my rotation going to look like?

  1. The coach must mentor, too.

From junior leagues to the NBA, there have been many stories of players getting their heads on straight because one particular coach reached them. It’s a real burden on coaches. While the players you have likely know how to get up for a game, they are all human beings. They will go through emotional rollercoasters throughout a season, week, or even a single game. It’s up to a coach to keep everyone focused on the goal.


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