Does a Basketball Program Need a Vision or Mission Statement?

WHAT are Vision Statements and Mission Statements?

  • Vision: Defines the way an organization or enterprise will look in the future. Vision is a long-term view, sometimes describing how the organization would like the world to be in which it operates.
  • Mission: Defines the fundamental purpose of an organization or an enterprise, succinctly describing why it exists and what it does to achieve its Vision. It is sometimes used to set out a “picture” of the organization in the future. A mission statement provides details of what is done and answers the question: “What do we do?”


 WHY would a Basketball Program Need Either?   “Without vision the people perish.”  -Proverbs 29:18

  • Dan Miller, author of 48 Days to the Work You Love, is said to explain it this way: “Without a really good mission statement you have the potential to get to the top of the ladder only to find it is leaning against the wrong building.”
  • I believe that the best programs are about much more than basketball, and that this intentional emphasis leads to better basketball.  Clear vision and mission statements help keep everyone focused on our goals and help them understand why we do what we do.
  • I am in my 10th year as a head coach and we have made adjustments over the years, but we have always had these to guide us.  I put them on the team handbook, in the locker room, on our website, and on our letterhead.  I want people to know and understand why we make the decisions we do.

HOW Do I Make a Vision Statement and/or Mission Statement?


These are the actual Vision and Mission Statements we have used with our teams.  We do not always win every game, but I am proud of how our players have represented themselves on and off the court, and I have heard the same from many of their parents over the years. 

Our Vision: To Be The Program by Which All Others Are Measured.


This is a huge goal.  You may have even heard of a BHAG (a Big Hairy Audacious Goal).  Note we didn’t just say basketball programs but all programs.  We didn’t just say high school programs but all programs.  It might not happen, but it is what we are shooting for.


We have our players wear a “Gameday” shirt with a team neck tie and khaki pants.  I have seen some teams that go all out with team blazers and such, and that is great if it works for them, but this is what works for us.  I have had opposing coaches comment on how good our players look, and after our first year of doing this there was even a spring sport that started doing a very similar thing at our school.

Our Mission Statement: Building Servant Leaders for Life in the Community, the Classroom, and on the Court Through Trust, Love, & Commitment.


This is how we turn the vision into reality.  It puts meat on the bones with specific attitudes, key areas, and core values.


Specific Attitudes: Servant Leadership does not come naturally.  Kids do not come out of the womb asking how they can help around the house!  Sadly, in sports we often enforce the opposite.  For example, the think goes “I am a senior so now the freshman serve me.”  Freshman carry the equipment, freshman do the grunt work, etc.  Now I do believe in paying your dues and earning your way, but I also believe that seniors need to learn that to truly lead they need to serve the freshman- not haze, abuse, or intimidate them.

Key Areas: Next we have what we call the 3 C’s: Community, Classroom, and Court.  We make intentional efforts in these areas to build leadership.  For example, we have done community service projects around the school, adopted families at Christmas, ministered to United Nations refugees, read to elementary school students, etc.  The players know why we do it- it is part of our mission!  They serve others in their community and beyond!  In the classroom we do old school weekly academic progress checks.  Each player gets a manila folder that has a grade check sheet stapled inside that they have to get signed with their grade and their behavior.  This serves as a wonderful motivator, and teachers love it!  We also give out academic awards at the banquet for each team and keep records for best team G.P.A.  On the court we have an offensive and defensive emphasis on every practice plan.  The players have to memorize them and be prepared to recite them at the beginning of practice or there is a punishment.  They are usually short and cover basic fundamentals.  For example, “No stance, no chance!” might be a defensive fundamental.  “Sprint to screens” might be an offensive emphasis.  Using these we are able to reinforce winning behaviors and attention to detail.

Core Values: What kind of marriage will you have if you don’t trust each other?  How about a friendship?  Business partnership?  Teammate?  Trust is the glue that bonds us together and allows us to achieve more together than we could on our own.  Players have to trust in their own abilities, their teammates, and their coaches.  The second core value is “Love.”  Love is the greatest force in the world.  We are not talking romantic love here- we are talking love of the game, love of competition, love of pushing yourself, love of buying in to a cause greater than yourself, etc.  The third core value is “Commitment.”  Here is a question I ask in several different contexts, but especially in basketball: Are you on the team, or are you committed to the team?  Jeff Janssen has an excellent book that I have used for years called The Team Captain’s Leadership Manual.  In it he explains his “Commitment Continuum” where he rates a players commitment to the team on six main levels from “Resistant” to “Compelled.”  There is a seventh level of “Obsessed” at the top that shows you can take it too far also.


This Vision Statement and this Mission Statement works for us in our situation.  Your situation may be very different than ours.  I would love to hear what you do with your team in your situation.  Please leave a comment or send us an email at

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Until next time, coach ‘em up!  

-Hal Wilson

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