By Coach Brian Williams on October 26, This article is a few years old, but still has value for players at every level of basketball. What a waste of time. That is nothing more than fake toughness, and it has no real value. The response I received was overwhelming. Well, I got the message that I should expound upon what I consider toughness to be. I thought I was tough.

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His definition of toughness is probably vastly different from a lot of your players. Those habits are what Jay Bilas calls "fake toughness". As Bilas puts it Toughness is a skill, and it is a skill that can be developed and improved.

If you go into the lunch room on any given day, you can probably find your players talking and screaming to their peers. But the second they step on the basketball court, theirs mouths remain shut. By talking on the defensive end, your players let their teammates know that they are there, and it makes everybody on the floor a better defender.

Not only does talking on defense make your team better, it lets your opponents know that you are fully engaged in the game, which can be an intimidating factor. Too often, players want to try and scoop the ball and score. But when the player that dives for the ball gets possession instead of the player that tried to scoop it, the player that tried to scoop got out-toughed.

It also forces your defenders to sprint to keep up with you, which can wear teams down. They should be playing so hard that their coach has to take them out so that they can rest before putting them back in the game.

Or yell at a teammate for making a mistake? The habits listed above are all negative body language.

That may mean that they set 10 screens in a possession, they may pass 25X more than they shoot. Bilas notes that tough players never drop their heads. Developing culture happens one small action at a time. By focusing on these seven behaviors, your players will begin to understand what toughness truly looks like in the game of basketball.


Book excerpt: Jay Bilas' "Toughness"

Self-evaluation takes honesty, and the toughest teams and players do not con themselves. When I was playing for Coach Mike Krzyzewski of Duke, he was often harder on us after a win than after a loss. He would identify areas of concern for our team and for individuals as "slippage" from our standards, and he was quick to point out that a lesser performance might have beaten our latest opponent, but it would not beat the best teams coming up in the future. And it was a standard of excellence. Coach K expected us to give championship effort in every minute of every game, and in every drill in every practice.


Toughness Quotes



Jay Bilas on Toughness in Basketball


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