Whether you’re an up-and-coming player or a young coach wanting to better connect with your players, finding motivation and inspiration is a great way to take your game or team to the next level. In this article, we’ve got tips from some of the game’s most legendary coaches — from Phil Jackson, Hubie Brown, and Dean Smith — on how aspiring athletes can become the best basketball players they can be.

Phil Jackson Preaches Humanity

Without a doubt, Phil Jackson is one of the most famous living basketball coaches. He’s coached the likes of Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, Kobe, and Shaq. He’s responsible for building championship dynasty teams, and has attained legendary status for his ability to manage superstar egos.

Growing up, Coach Jackson learned this quote from his father: “The bigger your head is, the easier your shoes are to fill.” Jackson preached this statement on humility to some of his best players, which allowed stars to set aside their egos and play for the common good of the team rather than play solely for individual glory.

Hubie Brown on Success

If you’re a younger ballplayer, you likely know Hubie Brown as a popular TV analyst for primetime NBA games. Before his broadcasting career, though, Hubie was a longtime basketball coach who had stints with the New York Knicks, Atlanta Hawks, and Memphis Grizzlies.

From a coaching standpoint, Brown is most famous for teaching his players that success is never guaranteed. He would always tell his players that getting to success is half the battle, but finding ways to maintain and prolong that success is the other half. No matter what stage you’re at in your basketball journey, remember that success must be earned through hard work and is never guaranteed!

Dean Smith on Perspective and Work Ethic

Michael Jordan’s college coach, Dean Smith, is one of the most successful college coaches of all time. Smith coached the North Carolina Tar Heels from 1953-1997, amassing 879 wins and winning 2 NCAA titles along the way. He also lost games, too. On the topics of winning, losing, and perspective, Smith once said, “If you’re going to make every game a matter of life or death, you’re going to have a lot of problems. For one thing, you’ll be dead a lot.”

Smith asks young players to work hard and prepare, but not to sweat every loss. Instead, learn from losses, and figure out how losing can make you better.