Dave Smart

How Dave Smart Built a Basketball Powerhouse with Simplicity

Dave Smart’s coaching philosophy stands out as a refreshing breath of fresh air. Smart, the mastermind behind Carleton’s sustained success and now an assistant coach at Texas Tech University, prioritizes simplicity and accountability. This blog delves into how Smart’s focus on player development, consistent coaching strategies, and a culture of accountability has shaped one of the most successful teams in recent history.

Keeping It Simple

The guiding principle Dave Smart follows is straightforward: keep it simple. This might seem counterintuitive in a sport synonymous with complexity, but for Smart, simplification is the key to unlocking player potential. By avoiding complicated plays, Smart ensures that his team can focus on perfecting the basics of the game. This emphasis on fundamentals allows for a level of proficiency and confidence in players that complex strategies can’t easily replicate.

The Power of Consistency

Smart believes in sticking to a consistent coaching strategy. This doesn’t mean that his team runs the same plays in every game without adjustment. Rather, it’s about refining and improving those plays year after year. This approach not only allows players to master the specifics of each play but also instills a deep understanding of the game’s dynamics. It’s about knowing the rules so well that you know when and how to bend them.

Accountability Is Key

Another cornerstone of Smart’s coaching philosophy is accountability. He highlights the importance of holding players accountable for their actions and performance. This isn’t about punishment but fostering an environment where players can learn from their mistakes and grow. Smart emphasizes that to effectively hold players accountable, a team needs depth. This depth ensures that players are continuously pushed to improve, knowing that their spot on the team is not guaranteed and is contingent on their effort and performance.

Reading the Feet

An interesting concept that Smart discusses is “reading the feet” of basketball players. This is about anticipating and reacting to the movements of opponents on the court. It’s a subtle skill that requires players to be highly observant and responsive. This skill underscores the necessity of being mentally as well as physically agile in the game of basketball.

How Dave Smart Fosters Competitiveness

Despite the simplicity of his approach, Smart doesn’t downplay the importance of competitiveness. He encourages a competitive environment in practices, pushing players to their limits. This is not for the sake of competition itself but to prepare them for high-pressure situations in games where giving up is not an option.

The Language of Coaching

Clarity and simplicity extend to the language used in coaching. Smart underscores the importance of using clear, simple terminology when coaching. This ensures that all players, regardless of their background or level of experience, can understand the strategies and plays being discussed. It’s about making the game accessible to everyone on the team and ensuring that communication barriers do not impede player development.


Dave Smart’s coaching philosophy may seem deceptively simple, but its effectiveness is undeniable. At the heart of his success is a commitment to the basics—simplicity, consistency, and accountability. By focusing on player development, encouraging a competitive practice environment, and using clear terminology, Smart has created a winning formula that has not only brought success to Carleton but has also positively influenced the lives of countless players. In a sport often dominated by the pursuit of the next big strategy, Smart reminds us that sometimes, the key to success is keeping it simple and being accountable.

Get instant access to exclusive videos from Dave Smart available only at davesmartbasketball.com


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

The owner of this website has made a commitment to accessibility and inclusion, please report any problems that you encounter using the contact form on this website. This site uses the WP ADA Compliance Check plugin to enhance accessibility.