WYC 026 Youth Basketball – Rich Czeslawski talks High School Basketball and BetterBasketball.com

What does it take to be a winning youth coach? Listen in as Rich Czeslawksi shares coaching stories and discusses his journey to becoming a successful youth coach.

Rich has been coaching high school basketball for 18 years in Crystal Lake High School in Illinois, the last 8 years as head coach. He also is the CEO of BetterBasketball.com – a resource founded by Rick Torbett – for basketball coaches to get training material and videos to help them move from good to great, and the origin of the Read and React Offense.  Rich is also the communications director for the National High School Basketball Coaches Association.  Rich is married and has a 5 year-old son and a 10 month-old daughter.

Twitter: @coachczes

Website: betterbasketball.com

Listen Now:

Listen in ITunes: Itunes link

Listen in Stitcher: Stitcher link


Coaching/Leadership Quote

  • ‘It’s what you learn after you know it all that counts’ – John Wooden

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My ‘Cringe’ Moment

  • ‘Early on I was more interested in telling others what I knew instead of learning from others’
  • ‘I was more intense in a negative way instead of being intense in a positive way’

My ‘Ah-Ha Moment’

  • At a Final Four coaching clinic – an older gentleman in front of Rich was furiously taking notes during a session – he turned around afterwards and it was Don Meyer – one of the winningest coaches in college history!  John Wooden quote: ‘It’s what you learn after you know it all that counts.’  Be a life-long learner.

Better Basketball

  • Founded by Rick Torbett – great videos for player development – and it’s cornerstone: the Read and React offense.  If you like watching the San Antonio Spurs play basketball – the Read and React is this type of system that you can put in to teams as young as 3rd grade.
  • Player development – videos from Alan Stein and Drew Hanlen
  • Website: betterbasketball.com

Teaching Children & Keeping it Fun

  • Your #1 objective is to make the kids fall in love with the game
  • Small-sided Games!  Kids younger than 5th grade really gain nothing from 4-on-4 or 5-on-5 activities

HUGE IDEA #1: Don’t put young kids in front of a basket when you first start teaching them to shoot!  They will immediately gauge their shooting form based on whether the ball goes in the basket or not – and if the ball is not going in – they often will start implementing bad form if it increases how often their shot goes in the basket.

Best Stolen Idea/Advice from another Coach

  • Always remember that everything a parent does – is because they love their child.  In return – as a coach you ask the parents to remember that as a coach – you have to worry about all the children in the program (not just their one kid they love.)

Recommended Resources

  • Pure Sweat Basketball – Brand new site/app that has awesome player development drills for any level.  Developed by Drew Hanlen and Alan Stein.  puresweatbasketball.com


  • Rules are very individualized by your team.  A mature team that knows what they want – might need very few rules.  A less mature team with lots of troublemakers might need many rules.
  • ‘Equal is not always fair and fair is not always equal’

Reward and Recognition

  • Catch people doing something right on a daily basis

HUGE IDEA #2 – Each week – ‘A me, a we, and a you’: What is something I did well this week, what is something the team did well this week, and what is something another individual did well this week.

Inspiring Story

  • Sometimes it’s tough to immediately realize the impact you are having on the kids – but it comes together when kids connect with you years after you’ve coached them


  • Below 5th grade – Rich does not think winning should be a goal.  It teaches the wrong messages.  Probably don’t even need to be playing in 5-on-5 leagues.
  • In 5th grade/6th grade – practice to game ratio should be heavily weighed on the practice side
  • ‘Nobody cares what your 6th grade record is’

The One that Got Away

  • Coach Rich went with the percentages instead of going with his gut – the lesson learned is to know your players and know what types of situations they thrive in

Favorite Quote/Book

  • ‘A leader is best when people barely know he exists.  When his work is done, his aim fulfilled, they will say ‘we did it ourselves” – Lao Tzu

Parting Advice

  • You will impact the young people you coach permanently – have the approach of making this a positive impact

Interview Links / Promotional Partners



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