How Can you Easily Stop Selfishness In Basketball?

Just like death and taxes are certain in our life as an athlete you can have both good teammates and selfish ones. If you’re a coach then there is greater possibility that you may come across a lot of them in your coaching career. How can you easily stop selfishness in basketball?

Playing basketball should be fun and enjoyable for everyone on the team. Everyone should get equal opportunities to express themselves. If one player watches his teammates shooting shot after shot without having a go by himself, how much fun will he get? 

Let’s get this underway with a simple question: why do you play basketball? Even if you ask me this question 1000 times, everytime the answer you’ll be hearing is “for the team”. It should be always- The team

Some selfish players know completely what they’re doing but simply just don’t care. Because, they are so desperate to taste their own success, they don’t see the bigger picture. Other guys may not know that they are really acting selfishly.

Be it an average player or high profile superstar, you can’t allow selfishness to ruin your team. If you tolerate those guys, they will most likely tarnish your squad. If you still keep this type of player on your team without addressing the situation, your ecstatic season can turn into a downright nightmare.

It may not be the end of the world for a selfish player. But if you’re fully aware of the fact that you are acting selfishly and still don’t try to change yourself then it can hamper your progress to become a professional player.

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Why are some basketball players so self-centered?

What exactly is creating these selfish players? A player can be selfish for various reasons. Let’s take a look at these reasons-


In our society, this is easy to mock people, talk disrespectfully with others and show disdain in acting. So, advertisers can sell those professional athletes who can act contemptuously than love and enthusiasm.

But people can spot fake disdain or contempt so quickly. As a result, athletes have to bring those scoffing from their heart. There you have a society of advertisers who are encouraging players to play selfish

2.Power shift:

When growing up a basketball kid look up to his idol and want to imitate his lifestyle & attitude. They see their body posture, chest thumping scenes, arrogant behavior with both their opposition and teammates. So, they think there is a connection between those rough, tough attitudes and success. Hardly they try to perfect a fadeaway or jump shot.

Also nowadays, the big companies and brands prefer individual players rather than teams. So, they sponsor these big names and in turn they represent the brands. This also plays a key part in building up an egotistic mindset 

3.Win at all cost motto:

Coach, parents and their idols all have forced them to be selfish by putting too much focus on winning.


This is really disappointing that most coaches put too much emphasis on winning a game. Ask your children how often he/she has heard this from their coach “if they box you out and secure the rebound, we will lose the game”. Surely that coach won’t be too much amused, if someone fails to deliver. Why can’t he speak to his players to focus on positive play?


It is probably parents who are most responsible to teach children how winning is so much important. If their child fails to win a game they would often tell ‘you should’ve done this or blah blah blah”. 

Parents also sometimes celebrate too much by clapping, cheering infront of their children. All this urges kids to win at any cost


NBA players get jubilant after a win and angry at a loss. youngsters love those reactions from their role models. This is to clarify that they should not stop watching their idols but instead of only focusing on the end result of a game, they should be working hard to develop their skills

4.Trust issue: 

Competitive minded players think they have to take the burden of scoring most shots than anyone. So, they play selfishly to improve the team’s chances of winning the game.

5.Searching for appreciation:

More often than not, youth players after scoring a point turn around to see the reaction of their parents, coach and fans. they throw fists in the air. They love to see the smile on their face. Yeah, it is all natural.

But when there is a great pass or a block, they don’t really get the same loud reaction. As a result, a player chooses to become a hero all by himself. They take shots by themselves instead of passing the ball to an open teammate. Don’t just blame this poor kid.

6.Mindset and ego:

People love to talk about themselves, their ambitions & bad lucks. How often you have heard someone saying to you “you know I should have been in NBA if I had….”. believe me he is in delusion. If he were that good, he would have been in NBA a long long time ago. We have got a generation of people who think they are not just good, in fact way better than everyone else. 

If you truly deserve to be in NBA, then you will get it no matter what. Set your goal, stay committed to your profession. You can’t live in a day dream. If you start to believe that you’re better than what you really are then it won’t be too long for you to be known as self-obsessed

Signs that you are a selfish player:

Sometimes, people label a player who scores bulk of the points as a selfish guy. They think that these guys scores more than anyone just because he hasn’t got a word “pass” on his dictionary. Ball stays most of the times on their hands and they scores.

But this is not always true. May be they are too good players to ignore. They play better and smart. Infact, there is a fine line between ambitious & selfish. And as a player, you should not cross the line.

1.Over confidence:

Confidence is important to play better and aggressive basketball. But over confidence can bring to your downfall. An over confident player wants to do things on his own. He thinks that he doesn’t require anyone’s help. He firmly believes he can pull things off alone. He doesn’t even consider his teammates. It can damage his relationship with the team

2.Hates substitution:

If a coach sees a player is not performing well for fitness or any other reason, he usually makes the substitution. A selfish player doesn’t want to leave the court even if he knows he has lost the rhythm and the team is suffering for that.

3.Takes shot at will:

Imagine that a player has got the ball on his hands through rebounding. Then he doesn’t wait for his teammates to come and set up the offense. Instead, he just carries on with the shot. By doing this, the team not only just loses the possession of the ball but also is deprived of a good scoring opportunity. This is what coaches say- Stupid Play

4.Learn passing skill? No way:

A selfish player doesn’t know how to pass the ball. Or you can say he is not putting enough hard work to learn the skill. Even he may not be too keen to learn it- this can happen as well. He usually thinks like this “I have got so many extra-ordinary skills. So, why do I need to learn how to pass the ball. I’ll just score

5.Active in offense, lazy in defense:

If you’re a player who loves to catch and shoot the ball but not interested to put that extra effort in defense then you are a selfish player. Because, you just care about putting the ball through the hoop, nothing else.

6.Ball stays too long on hands:

In basketball, rotation is very much important to set up an offensive play. A selfish guy holds the ball for too long in his hands. This happens so often

7.Will you try to force your way to the hoop even if you know you’re trapped?:

This is exactly what a pure egocentric selfish player does. He has nowhere to go. Still, he doesn’t pass the ball. He just carries on with his forward movement but in vain

8.Values little about the importance of passing the ball:

If you talk about key fundamentals in basketball, passing is one of them. So often, selfish players don’t understand the value of passing to a teammate and ignore it. They are not too much concerned with this

9.Ignores an open teammate:

If a player sees his teammate who is open and better positioned in the court than him, yet doesn’t pass the ball then what can we call him other than selfish? Your teammate is left unguarded for the time being, yet you don’t want to pass the pass the ball. In this case, your selfishness is really obvious

10.Blame their coaches and teammates:

They blame their coaches and teammates for their shortcomings. They are always trying to find a way to start a heated conversations or underestimate one another

11.Make excuses:

Selfish teammates are always busy to make excuse for an underwhelming show. They blame someone else for their poor showing on the court. If he doesn’t find a spot in the playing side, he will blame others for not giving the chance that he thinks he really deserves.

What he fails to see that he is not putting enough in the practice sessions to find a place. They have this mental toxicity

12.Care less about their team:

A selfish player often wants the limelight & recognition. He wants to stay at the center of the action all the time. The team comes second on their priority list. They are jealous of their teammates. Some only cheers for a teammate who doesn’t compete against them for their own position

13.Never shows up in ​​​​time:

These guys don’t value the necessity of self-improvement. They are probably the last one to arrive in the practice and pass their time in gossiping rather than sweating in the practice session.

They only dedicate a small amount of time. If you look at closely, you will notice even at various team functions, they are either constantly scrolling their phones or checking their wristwatch to know how much time is left there.

14.They behave like “know it all”:

A selfish player doesn’t care about the team. The only thing they care about is being right. They would rather be right in their own minds. But they won’t admit the fact that even they’re confused

15.They are too busy with themselves:

Selfish players don’t have anytime for their teammates. They are ready to make any sacrifices. They hardly attend any team functions and gatherings at the weekend. They have a lazy- me first attitude in their minds. They are someone who are just meant to play on the same team. Nothing more than that. they barely come forward to solve other’s problem.

Instead, they always ask for things and expect people to come to them. They only care about things they are interested in. There are no such words “sacrifice and appreciation” in their vocabulary. 

What exactly should you do to teach unselfishness:

These steps shall help you to stop selfishness shown by your team or any individuals players:

1.Put a full stop right from the start of a season:

if you’re a coach, you need to lead your troops from the front and make life easy for them. You should make every possible attempt to prevent selfishness from happening. If you allow this to happen that means you’re cheating with the team. It may even cost you the job. As a coach you should look to do this-

a.Focus on “making the right play”:

from day one, you should encourage your team to “make the right play”. It means you should take the decisions depending on the situations. If somebody is wide open then pass the ball. If you’re within shooting range and none is guarding then make the shot. Keep it simple and constantly talk about this method.

If you don’t put emphasis on this from the beginning of the season, it won’t be easy for you to make your players adapt or listen to this tactic

b.Resist talking about winning:

don’t talk too much about how you are gonna win & what will make your standing on the winning side. If the players hear their coach speaking and begging for a win, then they become so desperate that everyone wants to be standout performer and try to do too much. Encourage them to find the true meaning and purpose of the sport

2.Address them immediately:

suppose in spite of having an opportunity, a player is not passing the ball. I assume this is the time to directly tell that particular player to share the basketball more with his teammates. This will be one on one conversation between the head coach and player himself. You can have the conversation during another player’s free throws, time out even while they’re on the bench or after the game.

Besides, try to put the negatives in between those positive things. So, chances are high to get a positive feedback from your player

3.Talk to the player in private:

often times what just happens when you address a player as a selfish, they become even more selfish and look to find ways to impress their teammates and coach.

May be some of those guys are having actual problems outside the court which is contributing to their selfish act. They need someone to sit and listen to their frustrations. If that’s the case then talk to them privately. Help them to recover

4.Address it again, sit along with your team captain this time:

After several weeks of trying to deal with their negative mindset, if you fail to bring a change then sit down with your captain. Make this conversation a little more serious by bringing on some other leading players on your team. This will surely be a good eye-opening message for each player

5.Bench the player:

Well, still if they are not passing the ball then they are a cancer for their team. Time to remove the cancer. Because they have left you with no choices but bench them.

If your best player turns out to be the selfish one then this is where you need to show the real character of a coach who values more on keeping the moral of the game alive rather than fully concentrating on winning the game. They might be thinking that if their coach benches them, they will lose. So that is impossible to do for the coach.

Prove them wrong by sitting them on the bench regardless of how it affects your team’s final standing on the season

6.Talk with their parents:

now you have benched them. So. It is time to go and talk with their parents, find out a solution or ask them to have a chat with their son/daughter. This will make the player think that you’re a proactive coach who still have the faith in him. And the coach is willing to work together.

May be by doing this, you’ll be able to come up with a solution which is exactly you’re looking to do

7.Appreciate the right play:

yeah, the results are important but whatever the end result is, you should always praise the right play. If someone gives a pass to his open teammate but the shot is missed then don’t rue upon this fact too much.

Instead motivate the player by clapping and cheering. Forget the results. If you laud unselfishness play then team will give combine effort and ultimately bring the championship home

8.Tell them to celebrate their teammate’s success:

when you are frequently passing the ball to your teammates that automatically puts you in a positive mindset. You need to celebrate the success of others as if it is your own. This will create a positive vibe around the team.

If you can celebrate your team’s success, then it will form a positive team culture. A close bonding will be formed within the team as well. To make a habit of winning, celebrating the success with everyone is important

If you are hardly getting any opportunity then say this to yourself “whenever I get my turn, I’ll make the most of it”. Thus, a healthy competition is created along the way. That will force everyone to constantly improve and bring their A game on a daily basis. The kind of support you’re showing towards everyone shall be infectious and breed more unselfish play

What you should not do to teach unselfishness:

There is a common theory in coaching terms “Bench a selfish guy to become the unselfish”. Seriously is this a proper way to teach a player to become unselfish? Yes, we already know benching a player is a great teaching tool. It can be really effective at times.

How about benching a 13 year old kid? How bigger the impact will be upon his adolescent mind?

Here are few ways some basketball association, teams and coaches try to develop unselfishness. I fear, is this the best way to go?

1. You should not scream or yell at a child to pass the basketball. Go and talk to them. Try to understand the mindset of the kid. Handle them carefully

2. There are certain leagues which restrict points because coaches put too much emphasis on winning the game rather than developing the team.

How can you penalize a player for being too good? They have come so far by continuously working hard and giving his 100% day and day out. It won’t be fair on them just because they are more developed and better skilled than their teammates or opponents

So, these ways don’t seem to be complicated ones. By applying this formula a selfish player will definitely be able to make transition into an unselfish one. They may just require some helping hands. Coach, teammates and family are there. If these ways doesn’t work for them then don’t know what will work for them

  • December 16, 2019
  • Blog
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