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What is KAIZEN?

Kaizen is a Japanese term for "continuous improvement"

For basketball, it is having daily improvement as a person, student, and player. There is more to life than just basketball so as coaches, we must ensure that our players can get the most out of life, education, and maximize their potential on the court.

You can’t approach every day with the mindset to improve if that mindset isn’t positive. A positive outlook towards any area of life, school, or basketball that a player is trying to better themselves in will lead to a greater outcome of growth. You cannot fully the reap the benefits of your work if you allow negative thoughts to distract you within the process. These types of thoughts will take you away from that process making it difficult to fully maximize your potential. Stay positive. Stay focused. Trust the path that you are on.


Think of a baby taking their first steps. Step by step, they eventually end up in the arms of their mother, father, or guardian. They gradually get more comfortable with each step they take. As weeks and months pass by, the baby starts walking as if it’s second nature. There were numerous times during this process where the baby falls down, but with those failures, came success. The baby stayed positive and determined to get back up on their feet to try again. Daily improvement. Kaizen.

A familiar word that is related to “Kaizen” is the “process.” We have all heard or used the phrase “trust the process” at one point. In today’s society, everyone wants instant success or gratification whether that is financially, career driven, quality of life, etc. Parents of young athletes want to see their son or daughter have instant success in their chosen sport. Fans want to see their teams win right away. We want everything right at our finger tips. However, you must know that great things come to those who wait. Set goals, be patient, be positive, continue to work, improve daily, see the results kick in over time. As coaches or trainers, we tell our players to stick to the process and get better every day, meaning we must do the same.

For players, how can they incorporate KAIZEN into their every day routine?

The 3 areas they should be focusing on to improve:

1. Person

  • Acts of kindness

  • Representing themselves well-mannered

  • Be a better son/daughter

  • Be a better brother/sister

  • Respectful

2. Student

  • First impressions (sitting in first row of classes)

  • Respectful to teachers

  • Participation in class

  • Extra help

  • Completing assignments on time

  • Be on time

3. Player

  • Working on weaknesses

  • Refining strengths

  • Coming before or staying after practice

  • Off-season workouts

  • Relationship with coach

  • Intangibles

  • Film Study

For Coaches, how can we incorporate KAIZEN into our daily routine?

The two areas you should be focusing to improve upon:


  • Representing ourselves well mannered (professionally)

  • Be a better husband, wife, boyfriend, or girlfriend

  • Be a better father/mother

  • Well respected in your area

Coach or Trainer

  • Establishing a culture (Standards)

  • Relationships with players

  • Communication/meetings with staff

  • Coaching clinics

  • Networking with coaches throughout the US/Overseas

  • Watching film

  • Off-season program for players

Understand that kaizen is a term that needs to be incorporated as a part of your lifestyle. We hear it a lot within sports, business, and other parts of different professions, but it must apply to your every day life. Growth mindset as opposed to a fixed mindset. You cannot grow as an individual if you are fixated on just being where you are currently. Wake up with the appreciation for another day filled with opportunity to improve from the day before and be prepared for any new ventures that may come your way. Allow this positive outlook to fill your day as a person and as a coach. I guarantee that having a growth mindset and striving to get to where you want to be with small daily improvements will allow you to fully benefit from all the work you have put in throughout the years. Stay positive. Strive for change. Learn, grow, connect.


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