Δευτέρα, 29 Φεβρουαρίου 2016

THE ROAD TO SUCCESS

         Many times we realized and gave emphasis that basketball is a miniature game
of life. If we accept the term "you win or you learn”, then after many games (big and
small), we will come out as a winner or more wise.
There have been many times that made me wonder if life gives us lessons for
basketball or it's the opposite. Maybe I see it like that because basketball is my life. I
don't mean that there is nothing else in life than basketball. I agree that there must be
a balance everywhere, but it's true that the biggest part of my daily schedule is
dedicated to basketball.
The inspiration of this article came from one speech given by Richard John, a
successful businessman, who explained how he reached success and then how he lost
everything. At that time, he realized what mistakes he made and he was able to
succeed and reach the top again. I believe that there are so many examples in
basketball worth discussing.
According to Richard John, the main reasons for success lie in the following "8
secrets of success"
1. PASSION for what you do. Don’t do it for money but because you love what you
do. If you do it for love, then money comes anyway.
2. HARD WORK. It's all hard work, nothing comes easily. It's also connected with
loving what you do cause it's the only way to work hard and have fun.
3. BE GOOD. To be successful with something, put your nose down and get damn
good at it. There is no magic, it's practice practice practice.
4. FOCUS. Be focused on what you do.
5. PUSH. Push yourself physically and mentally. You got to push through shyness and
self-doubt.
6. SERVE. You've got to serve others with something of value (If he knew that we are
talking about basketball maybe he could say, you have to think about how to serve
your team)?
7. IDEAS: Listen, observe, be curious, ask questions, problem solve.
8. PERSIST. You've got to persist through failure, you've got to persist through crap
(Crap=criticism-rejection-assholes-pressure)!!!
So I am wondering, was his speech was for businessmen or for players-coaches of
basketball? Until now, I had the opportunity to coach a lot of players who made big or
small careers in the NBA/WNBA. I used to ask the same question to everyone. What
was that thing that brought you to that level? What made you become such a good
player? Your talent? Your luck? Your brain? Except for one case, which we will talk
later, almost all of the players had the same answer: "It was the hard work coach. You
cannot imagine how much time and hard work I’ve dedicated to my body. When I was
in college, almost every day I had pain somewhere. I was always feeling tired. But I
was enjoying. And anytime I had the chance to play with my friends, I was going with
them to the playground, despite the fatigue. We talk about "a lot of basketball". I think
that's the reason that I made it to the NBA".
I don't want to talk with names but I am sure that all of us know cases of players that
many believed that they will become very good but they never became what
everybody believed they will be. Maybe for some young players, the achievement of
some small goals made them believe that they already conquered the Mt. Everest, that
they are already at the top and the rest of the way is easy. That group of the players
probably live in their own micro-world, probably surrounded by people who prefer to
compliment them about everything.
At that point of my conversation with my players, I make them wonder if they follow
the same recipe that brought them at the top, because its logical that if they don't then
it will start the fall.
I think that statistically, a large amount of players all over the world, when they reach
at the top, they stop working hard. According to my experience, this is happening
especially with the players from USA, but of course not only with them.
It's like they turn off a button inside them which says "ENOUGH WITH HARD
WORKING. NOW I MUST ENJOY THE TOP".
According to Richard John, all people believe that the road to success is a one straight
way. People that work on the 8 secrets of success reach their goals. But this is where
some of them start to rest.They think that they are already successful and they don't
need to follow the steps that brought them there anymore, and slowly those 8
elements of success collapse.
Money becomes the main reason that they play basketball and not their love for the
game. You can feel it very easy on every conversation. Automatically they feel a huge
gap inside their life which they think that they can fill it with an expensive car and
glamorous life. Somehow the fall already begun without anyone realizing it. Same
thing happened to Richard John, so he went to a psychologist and he explained to him
that he was feeling miserable, that he became rich with a lot of fortune but finally
money never brought the happiness. But money can buy pills against depression. So
he was walking in a path on which he didn't care for his job but for himself.
Eventually, the system threw him out of the market. That was the time that he realized
that he must start again from the very beginning, with all those components that
brought him to the top before. But this time, things were not so easy, it was much
harder than the previous time. It took him 7 years for his business to reach the top
again. Of course in the world of basketball, I doubt if a player or even a coach has this
much time or chances. You never know though, we said that PERSISTENCE is one of
the elements of success, but for sure in that case, time is not an ally.
I think that if we can keep one thing from that story, it is that the road to success is not
one straight line with the 8 elements on it. Reality shows us that the road to success is
a full cycle and the person who wants to reach success and to stay on top must always
walk on that cycle going from one element to the other and coming back to the
beginning without any stop.

Somewhere here I could finish my thoughts, but there was still something inside me
that didn't let me fill the whole puzzle. I keep making myself some questions: So
everything is so simple? so easy? The only thing you need to do is to work on those 8
secrets of success and success will come? and keep it like that for all your career?
And what about some other factors that take place in our life, like luck, environment,
chances? Some people have more chances , or they grow up in a family or in an
environment that gives them more opportunities. If you will be born with doctors as
parents, and you decide that you also want to be a doctor, then it's not going to be so
difficult in comparison with other kids who want to be doctors. The same if you are a
lawyer’s kid and you also want to be a lawyer. Even if you are the kid of some famous
politician, for sure you will succeed in any job you want to follow...(except of the job
of professional athlete. I saw many times kids from poor families to become super
doctors, but I never saw the kid of a famous politician to become a super athlete or a
champion somewhere).
Many times it can happen that most of the answers, most of the lessons, most of the
basketball moves come from our own players. I don't hide that from them that I
copied moves that I teach now, even some wise quotes, even some tactics which
unconsciously they made. So it was a player again who gave me the answers to the
above questions. I mentioned before about a special case in which a player who
answered me totally different on the question about reaching the highest level. She
answered to me: "Coach, every time that I am going inside the court to play, I don't
see anything else in front of me besides my son. I was poor and I got pregnant very
young. Until that time, I was playing only for fun, anyway I knew that I wasn't a
talented player and probably I will not be able to play on a big level. But all of a
sudden basketball became the only way to provide the milk to my baby. When I am
going inside the court, when I see my opponents, the only thing that I think is that
they will try to stop me from bringing milk to my son. And as you can understand,
there is no one and nothing in the world that can stop me. I think this is what brought
me to this level".
So from that answer, we all understand that a very big issue that we didn't mention is
"the heart of the athlete". Although that in the case of the athlete-mother, the
"motivation" looks like the biggest reason for her success, I strongly believe that
behind the motivation we will find the passion of what she is doing, as say in sports,
the player with a heart.
A famous psychologist, Mrs Angela Lee Duckworth, who made similar references
with Mr Richard John about success, gave her point of view a little bit more simple.
After many researches that took place in different schools and jobs with totally
different directions, she tried to find what is that element that will make people
succeed, and use it as an indication of a forecast for future successful people. So after
many years of success she concluded that it is the GRIT! As she says, "Grit is passion
and perseverance for very long-term goals. Grit is having stamina. Grit is sticking
with your future, day in, day out, not just for the week, not just for the month, but for
years and working really hard to make that future a reality. Grit is living life like it's a
marathon, not a sprint". So according to her, these are the people that will succeed in
their lives.
These are great wise words that can find their place in basketball and with players and
coaches.
That's why I wondered at the beginning of the article, is life a miniature game of
basketball or the opposite? Of course not (or maybe yes), but the only sure thing is
that the examples and lessons of life become examples and lessons in the general life
of basketball.

Κυριακή, 21 Σεπτεμβρίου 2014

MIAMI HEAT DEFENSIVE ADJUSTMENTS

To be honest, I believe that in the 2014 NBA finals, MIAMI HEATS were not very focus on defense. Generally they let SAN ANTONIO SPURS do whatever they wanted on the floor without trying to cut their rhythm. The only game that HEAT show us a different face was on the second game and its not coincidence that it was the one and only game that SPURS scored under 100 points (110-96-111-107-104) and the one and only that HEAT won. So in that game HEAT were switching a lot on the screens and they were making a lot of defensive adjustments. A small sample of these you can watch on the following video.

Κυριακή, 20 Οκτωβρίου 2013

HUSTLE DRILLS

Today I will present you one category of drills that college and high schools coaches are using very often, especially on the opening days. These drills are very well known drills as "hustle drills". In Europe we are not so familiar with these drills, I mean not as much as in the States, but the true is that through these drills we can teach a lot to our players, like how to fall down without injuries, or most important to create them a mentality of self sacrificing for the team,and of course they can be really fan. At the following video, coach of VCU himself is demonstrating the drill.

One more hustle drill similar with the previous one.

And one more here, although this one shows more how to take the charge

Τρίτη, 29 Ιανουαρίου 2013

2-1-2 MATCH UP ZONE DEFENSE


In women's euroleague, a very good Italian club (FAMILA SCHIO), runs very well an interesting match up zone defense. The (very good) coach of the team Maurizio Lasi achieved to hide the disadvantages of his bad defensivly players thru this zone, to confuse a lot his opponent and make them play very slow and to increase the possibilities of winning. Finally the moderate (until that time) team manage to entry to the final 8 of euroleague.
The rules that has that defense is mostly to follow every danger cut, to adjust and take positions very fast to 2-1-2 zone even if the point guard need to fill the middle of the paint or the center to follow on the top of the key. Of course in order to play that zone defense you need to have big guards, athletic bigs and excellant communication.
Maybe at the following video you'll have the feeling that defense is in man to man, but trust me they stay in zone.


Κυριακή, 14 Οκτωβρίου 2012

A COACH’S OFF SEASON PERIOD


Everyone more or less knows a team or player’s needs during the off season. Basically, the goal is, “improvement of all individual characteristics of the player", to mostly improve his/her weaknesses. It's the only time throughout the whole year that the player has an adequate amount of time to work on his weaknesses without concern of his muscles being overused or exhausted from the heavy weight lifting program or intensive sprints. Also, even the fear of changing, or improving his technique will not cost him performance because there are no official games during this period.
I ask the question, the same philosophy that we teach to our players, can we also apply it to ourselves, as coaches? In my opinion, it definitely can and it must be like that! No matter what level each of us is coaching, this is the only period that we can learn something new, and create new ideas and philosophies. In basketball, every two years presents new tactics and plays, or even brings back old plays in which the new generation of players has never seen before. I believe if we do not involve ourselves to keep up with everything new, we will actually be moving backwards since everything around us is moving very fast forwards. Don’t forget, at exactly the same time that we are trying to convince our players to do something which is totally opposite with our personal moves!
My point is that in exactly the same way that we try to improve our players in the weight room, or practicing on the court on his techniques with shooting, dribbling, passing, etc., are the same way that we must improve ourselves on the skills a coach must have. A quick note, some of these skills a coach must have are:
-Drills and practicing philosophy
-Plays and game philosophy
-Coaching
-Leadership
-Ways of communication
-Modernization of our job
and of course many more which anyone can add.
But now crucial questions appear, in which each one of us must ask ourselves, regarding:
Where do I need improvement?
What am I good at?
How shall I improve?
The answer to these questions is not as difficult as it looks. We live in the era of information that makes it easy to get informed of anything. There are many websites where we can always find something new. Also during the offseason, many clinics take place where the best coaches (at least interesting coaches) are eager to share their experiences and their knowledge, including their drills, plays, and game philosophies. For those that are more familiar comfortable with internet orders, there are plenty of DVD's from the states that can be inside your DVD player in less than a few days.
But the knowledge of the coaching is something that no one clinic can show us. That knowledge can be gained only from the observation of one coach by watching some games. My advice is to choose two or three coaches who you think are really good, download their games (it's very simple and easy to download any NBA, NCAA, or Euroleague game, even with some small amount of payment) and observe them very carefully. I personally prefer to watch Euroleague games, the March Madness of NCAA, KAI and the last playoff rounds of NBA; Also a lot of the Spanish league, and a bit of Italian, Russian, and Turkish league (of course I always follow the Greek league). Some of these games I record, and then watch them during the off season period. All of these games show me new directions of basketball, and help me create new ideas. It may sound strange, but the truth is that often times, communication with other coaches is something that can offer us many things and add a lot to our bag of knowledge.
And don't forget that in this period many important games take place, such as the Olympic Games, and World or European games, of all ages. As much as we want to watch all the games, no one has enough time to, because time is money. I suggest at least choosing the highest level games and analyzing them. Also during the off season those coaches who are unfamiliar with computers and the newest basketball software try to gain access to this equipment to make your lives easier, since this is the goal of technology after all.
Next, I believe that the most important thing for a coach is his inside charisma. It is not only how to show his players how to execute a drill, but how to inspire them to make the drill the best that they possibly can. In general, use basketball to inspire them about life. To be their father, their best friend, but at the same time be the one who everyone trusts as their leader. Some say leaders are born, but I believe that if someone is competent to realize and adapt that role, than anyone can be a leader in his own right.
The background and the education of the coach play a big role in his job, but his best weapons are his words which must touch the hearts of his players. Never forget that a coach is always a manager of personalities, but an even better manager of adversity, so he must have a many-sided multi-dimensional education in order to relate and correspond to his profession.
I dare to say that there are many books, even that have been written hundreds or thousands of years before us, that seem to have been specifically written for coaches, although they may not mention one word about sports. In my opinion, some of these great books are as follows (some are modern):

"The art of war" of Sun Tzou
"The prince" by Niccolo Machiavelli
I would also like to suggest to you the following books, but these will offer insight not just on being a coach, but also for one’s personality as well:
"The leader who had no title" Robin Sharma
"Women are from Venus, men are from Mars", especially suggesting to coaches who want to coach on women's basketball.

"Leading and Coaching Teams to Success: The secret life of teams"

"Personality: How to Unleash Your Hidden Strengths" by the specialist of these books Rob Yeung

"Out of our minds, learning to be creative" by the amazing Ken Robinson

There are of course many more “diamonds” that are hidden in bookstores that can really help improve the culture, attitude, and behavior of a coach towards not only his players, but to the people he works with, as well as his own family, all aspects that are very important and basic for a coach’s job.
I am pretty sure that this list of books on personality could be written even longer because maybe it is more important than the X's and O's. That is why I would be grateful if you could suggest to me any book in which I can positively influence my personality and life as a coach.
Let us never forget that although our job is one of the most difficult jobs in the world, at the same time it is the most beautiful! We help our players not just in basketball, but also build their character and develop their personalities to make them human beings for their futures and careers by establishing the basis foundations of hard work ethic and teamwork. This is a very big responsibility which we always have to be proud of and always try to be worthy.

Σάββατο, 2 Ιουλίου 2011

Even the most nice things have an end...

Finally we manage to keep Latvia among the best 8 teams of Europe, something that few people believed on that before the Eurobasket '11. I don't know if this is a succes or not but the reality is that we did it without many important players, and also I 'm proud that we did it with many young players. Someone that few people know is that only Latvia France and Russia have done this the last eight years. Congratulations also to the Latvian federation who didn't choose the easy way of naturalizing American WNBA players although is a small country of 2 milion people, and they trusted their young talents (something that FIBA must take care, because teams don't start from the same root).
That was my last game as the head coach of the Latvian national team, for personal reasons I will not continue working with those sweet and good players. It was an honor for me that I had the chance to cooperate with such good players, with such characters, these are the DIAMONDS of Latvian sports! A very big THANK to my stuff who was by my side every second, to the fans who believed in us and support us, the federation who gave us everything that we asked, thank you all players during these two years, thank you for your kind messages that you wrote to my whiteboard, and especially a big thank to one of the QUEENS of european basketball GUNTA BASKO who was the perfect captain and a huge help for me! I wish in my career to have always players and personalities like Gunta!
Generally it was a big honor for me to work in such a beautiful country with so many good and polite people and as an epilogue I would like to make two wishes:
-the young players to continue keeping high the flag of Latvian Basketball,
-some day to meet at the court all together again!

THANK YOU
COACH GEORGE DIKEOULAKOS

Κυριακή, 16 Ιανουαρίου 2011

COMMUNICATION

We all know that one of the most important things in defense is communication. I 've seen teams that communicate excellant, rotate and keep playing defense until the last second. I don't know if one of these teams is Granada, but the defense you'll see that they played against Caja Laboral for the Spanish ACB championship was amazing. Enjoy it!