Coaches Corner: Scott Fitch
The head boys basketball coach at Fairport High School in New York, Scott Fitch, seven times has coached for USA Basketball. He led the USA to a win as head coach of the 2019 USA Nike Hoop Summit team, and he was one of four lead coaches at the 2019 USA Basketball Men's Junior National Team July minicamp. He also served as a court coach at the 2017, 2018 and 2019 USA Basketball Men's Junior National Team October minicamps, and he was an assistant coach for the gold-medal winning 2018 USA Men’s U17 World Cup Team and 2017 USA Men’s U16 National Team.
USA Basketball spoke to Fitch to gain some insight and perspective on coaching.
During this time, what type of coaching duties are you doing daily?
I think it is a time that you just never could have prepared for. Every state has their own regulations on what you can do. Obviously, those regulations trump everything.
I’m still trying to connect with my athletes. I think it is really important. I’m trying to call one or two kids a day, just to talk to them. I’m doing a Zoom workout on Wednesdays with my kids for like a half-hour. You can’t do a ton, but things like ball-handling. It is important for them to see you face-to-face. And then, I’m having my team actually make up workouts for Monday and Friday. So, for two days a week, I’m having a kid make a workout up and challenge the other kids to do it. I think the biggest thing right now is just trying to motivate them.
What do you wish you knew about coaching when you first started out?
One is just focusing day-to-day. I used to worry about wins and losses a lot more. And now, I just focus on trying to improve every day. The reason that has been important for me is because it has made me a happier coach. I don’t sit there and stew as much over things that didn’t go right. I just look forward and keep trying to improve every day and every drill. And, that has a been a great focus for me. I think it is cliché, but it has made an impact on not only my coaching but on my life as well.
What is the most important characteristic you work to develop in your athletes?
I think there are two things that I really try and instill in the kids, and we do it through different pillars. One is just being a great teammate. I really get on the kids to understand what being a great teammate means – to be able to celebrate others, not yourself. The kids that I have coached that are the most special, they impact other people and make other people around them better. That is an amazing quality. And so, if you are being a great teammate, that is what you are doing, you are bringing out the best in other people. To be a great teammate, you have to communicate at a high level. And I think with phones and social media, I think our kids have lost the ability to communicate very well. And so, we really try and bring that out. When you think about being a great teammate, I think it brings all these real positive things out of the kids, and I think it will help them be successful in life.
The other characteristic that is important is perseverance. Having the grit and being able to work through tough times and problems. Putting them in situations in practices and situations where they have to do that is something they will draw on forever.
Is there one overall offensive principle you think is most important?
Offensively, anybody that watches our teams knows that we love to pass the ball and share the ball. I just think the game is more fun when the ball moves, instead of watching one player pound it. So, I think in general it is being able to pass and the willingness to pass and being unselfish. The other thing that I would mention on that, is I think we really try and get our kids to be comfortable under pressure and doing drills that reinforce that. Putting them in spots where we try and speed them up and see if the kid can handle that and be calm and make the right play out of that. That is something that kind of translates to all facets of basketball.