Κυριακή, 27 Δεκεμβρίου 2009

VALENCIA

The team that I loved to watch during the last two years from the Spanish ACB league, was Valencia of coach Fotis Katsikaris. His team was playing very discipline and it was obvious that everything was done by coach's plan. Usually, most of the teams use common plays with some little differences, rarely we see something special. But Valencia presented very succesfully a new play with many different options for the final shot.

Παρασκευή, 18 Δεκεμβρίου 2009

AEROBIC-INTERVAL TRAINING WITH BASKETBALLS

Both during the preparation and in the regular season , it’s necessary to increase or maintain the aerobic capacity. One way is interval training. The athletic works for a given time period and then is given a certain time for recovery. The time given to the athlete to work depends on what we want them to achieve that day. In the following video you will see an example of interval trainings in basketball. These exercises can vary with or without the ball as well as running exercises. The task at hand is to work 6 exercises for a period of 3 minutes work, and 3 minutes rest, matching a one to one ratio. During each exercise, there may be several changes(change of direction, etc), this is done without any interruption to the drill. The athletes enjoy the exercise more if music is applied into the workout. One idea of adding music to the work out, is insert certain sounds. When an athlete hears the sounds it indicates them to change stations or exercises. By adding this addition to the work out, it helps with time and organization with the drills, so the coach doesn’t have to look at his watch or blow the whistle for change. By having the music as the source of time and change, the coach is able to help set up the next drill, without having to worry about interruptions during the drill.

We divide the players into 2 groups of 6 and perform exercises of 3 minutes. The first group does the exercise while the second group waits for their turn.
Exercise 1: Every minute each couple switches stations so that every station is used in the exercise.
Exercise 2: Every 30 seconds players move from one position to the next.
Exercise 3: The players are in groups of three along the line. Each one shoots, gets the rebound, and pass to their teammate who is coming across to shoot. After 90 seconds the players switch sides of the court.
Exercise 4: The players in a straight line, the run and close out at the 3 point line, sprint to half court, back peddle to the foul line, defense slide from one slide line to the other where they receive the ball and go for lay up at the other basket, and after the lay up they get their rebound bring the ball back and repeat the drill. After 90 seconds they change the direction of the first slide which changes the side of the lay up.
Exercise 5: One player underneath the goal passes to the player standing in the corner of half court. The passer goes to half court. After 90 seconds the direction changes.
Exercise 6:.The players slide from left to right depending on what direction the coach shows. After he shots and the players in groups of 5 or 3 run five fast breaks. After the 5 fast breaks they repeat the same exercise for 3 minutes.

Πέμπτη, 1 Οκτωβρίου 2009

SPECIAL SITUATION

When few seconds are remaining in the game, and one team must score to win or send it to overtime, a special play or strategy must be set. We used to call these situations as “special situations”. We saw such as one during the game of Serbia vs Turkey at the European championships of 2009. 3.4 seconds were left on the shot clock when Serbia scored and tied the game. Immediately, the coach of Turkey, Tanjevic, called a timeout for two reasons. First according to the rules, Turkey, after the timeout, had the right to inbound the ball from the middle line, and second because he wanted to set a “special situation” play. Unfortunately for him, his players didn’t manage to score, but the play that he drew was very nice.

Παρασκευή, 28 Αυγούστου 2009

MALTSI’S LAW

It has been a long time since the glory days and big success of Greek Women’s Basketball. Our National Team clinched fifth place at the European Championship. This achievement grants us free entrance to the World Championship of 2010 as well as European Championship of 2011. As a result, we can relax and take a moment to explain some of the facts that got us where we are today. Without doubt a good team consist of many good players. Each player is special and has a specific role on the court but let it be known that the lead scorer will be the player that steps up the level of the team. In a tournament in Italy, before the Eurobasket of 2009, the head coach of Serbia said to me, “it is unbelievable the way some of your players perform when they play with the National team, not only do they play better but they play 500% better…you have this player Maltsi who for me is the Michael Jordan of European Women’s Basketball…”. Although I smiled respectfully and have great respect for Coach Antonic as a coach and a person, a friendship of many many years, his statement at the time seemed exaggerated and tortured my mind. However, today, I can say Coach Antonic was right! Evina Maltsi’s achievements can remind us of none other than the legend Michael Jordan. Back in the day, Jordan was the NBA’s leading scorer exactly as Evina is in our league today. Again like Michael, Evina succeeds as the leading scorer without pursuing it and never bringing anything bad to her team. Back in the day the American superstar took his team by the hand and captured titles, much like Evina’s ability to lead our National team to capture the title of 5th place at this years Championship, making the rest of his non-famous teammates perform 500% better than their abilities--Does this remind you of someone? At the same time Michael Jordan was voted best defender of the NBA. I must say I am so proud of our team and our defense. Our team worked excellent together and stats show our National Team as the best defensive team in the European championship, however I can not personally vote any one player as the best defender. But these same stats show Evina Maltsi as leading in steals as well!!! I consider this a unique and unbelievable thing. The fact that a player can be the leading scorer and first in steels in a big tournament, is what I consider the best athlete and player. Jordan was the NBA’s most valuable player as was Maltsi . All journalists voted her this title except one, I want to find this guy and ask him why and decertify his sports license.
People know a lot about Maltsi based on what they read but the most inspiring character traits about Evina you can not read about. Many people say “basketball MAKES character” I believe it not only makes character but REVEALS character. Basketball is a place where you can see the difference between a coward and someone who is mentally strong, has heart, never gives up, and is a true leader. I’m unsure if Evina’s character was built over the years but for sure through basketball she reveals confidence. She has extreme confidence on and off the court. She is a fighter in basketball and in life. Let us not forget when she was young she left her home in Goumenissa and now she is a European superstar. The best thing about Evina is she listens to her coach, always wanting and willing to learn, and observes what you say to her including body language and tone of voice. This makes her a great guard and serves as only a small example of her ability and determination to observe everything going on around her with the intent to learn from it. She is a true leader that vitalizes the spirit of the team and transfers her experience to other players. She is simply a girl that clamps her rules with her personality. Evina’s law on her team is that everybody must give their best and contribute in scoring. Evina’s law to her opponents is to require the whole defense to be centered around guarding her. Evina’s law outside of basketball is to have fun and make everyone’s life around her more beautiful. Evina’s law after a big win is to dance Sirtaki with her teammates at the center of the court. Evina’s law is to promote Greece through her basketball career. Evina’s law was to make the opening ceremony at Euro basket 2009 more “alive”. Evina’s law is fatigue starts in the mind and she will not allow her mind to beat her body. She thinks it is extremely important to encourage her teammates to understand this concept and control their minds as well. Evina’s law says that you must be passionate about everything you do no matter what you do! After a bad game the law of Evina and her teammate Toula Kalentzou (also a great person) is to post their stats outside their door “the room off 3/20 3 point shots”. She has gained the right to put her law everywhere. It is welcome by everybody because she has earned this right based on her personality and value as a player.
In closing, I would like to clarify my intention is not to glorify Maltsi as much as it is to explain the traits that make a great athlete. It just so happens that Evina Maltsi fits this description exactly, it's the perfect example of showing the meaning of the player's personality and character to the road of his progress, and showing how important is to us (as coaches and as parents) to work on it also. The development of player's personality has the same value as the his/her fuel of desire, willingness to progress, an inner fight, and also the ability of knowing who is he as a player and as a person. I have began to see these same traits in Stella Kaltsidou. Stella is the next big hope of another European superstar from Greece. I have slowly began to see these traits in other players of this generation as well.
I know Evina Maltsi very well and I am sure parallelism to Michael Jordan, though flattering, will not make her feel comfortable. I think her law includes making her own name for herself. I think her law makes us looking at her as not anyone other than EVINA MALTSI FROM GREECE.

Πέμπτη, 20 Αυγούστου 2009

WARM UP 1

On this video you'll watch a different way of warming up, a new idea that applicated Andreas Mavros who is the strength and conditioning coach of the women's National team and men's U20 National team of Greece. The true is that in our team we don't like to use this kind of warm up cause we prefer to spend this time on individual practice or tactic or some shoting drills who are parts of our plays, but sometimes we need to break this routine, and this combination of running and dynamic stretching was perfect on this practice of the women's national team that you'll watch.
It's good to know that before these drills we made a 5 min drill with lay ups etc, and after the warm up it followed an aerobic drill also using basketballs.


Here is one more video that I found on youtube showing some dynamic stretching exercises.

Σάββατο, 4 Ιουλίου 2009

NEW IDEA ON DEFENDING THE SIDE PICK N ROLL

At the last two years, the women’s national team of Greece has present a brand new as also unusual reaction on defending the side pick n roll which is very efficient.
The basic rules that we follow on that kind of the defense are:
1- The player who plays defense on the ball turns her body in such way of denying the pick n roll and giving the only option of driving to the basket.
2- The big player who’s guarding the screener stays with her.
3- The other big player who’s her player doesn’t involve to the pick n roll protects the basket.
4- The weak side’ perimeter player who is closer to the baseline goes almost under the basket, and always in front of the big girl who is at the low post.

In case there is a pass to the weak side, the rotation takes place like this:
1- The upper perimeter player goes always to the first pass
2- The perimeter player who had to sugg inside goes always to the second (extra) pass.

Τρίτη, 26 Μαΐου 2009

Stretching with ropes

I feel so lucky cause always in my teams we had a very good strength and conditioning coach who was doing his best to change the level of the team and our best performances to be at the days and the month we wanted to. To name some of them, Kostas Ntakoulas, Vangelis Anyfantis, Kostas Stavrakopoulos, Andreas Mavros. All of them were so imported in achieving our goals. At the following video you'll watch Andreas Mavros with the women's National team of Greece doing some stretching with ropes.

THE TEAM

One of the main responsibilities coaches face each year is effectively teaching twelve athletes the importance of acting and behaving as a team on and off the court. In order to help achieve this goal the coaching staff: provides identical uniforms and costumes to the team to be worn when travelling and dinning, chooses their roommates instead of letting them chose themselves, spend time at expensive restaurants as well as expensive hotels, and long term preparation at the mountains. I have even heard of teams going camping and attempting to build a solid team foundation by breaking stones with hammers and hoes. Most of these are good ideas but I believe there comes a time when we stop our efforts and allow the players time to build good relationships and good chemistry. We must not forget a very important aspect of this concept. In order for us to see the results we are hoping for; we must allow our players to make a personal decision about the importance of team relationships and hope they do the things necessary to continually build team chemistry. Past generations have a different mentality than our present generation, for example, twenty to thirty years ago it was enough for a coach to give an order and 95% of the time the players would execute it just because the coach said to do it. However, the present generation, which I refer to as the “Why? I doubt” generation, wants to analyze the play and understand what it is all about before they execute it. In the event the player does not grasp the entire concept of the play either he will not do it at all or not as efficient as the coach wanted it done. So back to our original issue, if we want to make twelve players a real team we will have to do more than to clamp to them. It is necessary to take them by the hand and lead them step by step. It is important that we talk to people maturely but not so mature that they do not understand what we want them to do. We must never stop teaching our players even if we feel we need to. We don’t only teach defense and offense, correcting their mistakes, but we should teach the athlete things that will make them better people. Remember your very first steps as players, and remember your very first coaches. Surely these coaches are the most beloved coaches of your career. Why do we love these coaches so much? It is very simple, he/she is your very first basketball idol, because he/she was inspiring you with magic love and passion for basketball even if he/she talked about more than just basketball. I thankfully remember my very first coach with so much love. His name is Costas Bogatsiotis. He created a large generation of good players and some of them continued with a successful career. None of us will ever forget when he required us to show him our term papers and threatened to cut us from the team if we did not show clear progress the following semester. That man was an inspiration to us not only in basketball but also in life. We should never stop being such a type of coach no matter what the level is, a pro team or a six years old team. One of the greatest coaches in Europe, maybe the greatest, Zeljko Obradovic says, ““… you can be as astringent and martined as you want to inside the court, but at the same time you also have to be close to their problems outside the court, otherwise you’ll not achieve anything....". And from my experience with both pro and six years old teams, I can assure you that all kinds of players; superstars, amateurs, or children will face all kinds of personal problems.
With my new team Athinaikos, from the very first practice in June, I tried to make my players understand the importance and usefulness of a connected team. I heard many rumors in the past about bad relationships between the players but I tried not to believe what I had heard. Instead I emphasized even more the importance of the team in my speeches. I tried to explain to them that in order to achieve our goals we had to make some steps together. If the first steps are not a solid foundation then the whole building would collapse with our expectations. Our very first step had to be a conscious effort by each player in order to be a team. I placed individual responsibility on each player. I told them that the construction of the first step was on them and the other steps I would and could help with. I told them if they did not build that first step then we would not achieve anything. Although my players seemed to get the point a few days later I realized my words had flown to the air. I will explain to you what I mean. Three players on the team as well had the honor of playing on the National Team of Greece, as myself as their coach. The National team of Greece at the time was trying to qualify for the European Championships. Three of the qualifying games were taking place in Athens therefore Athinaikos moved the practice time up so the team could attend the National Teams game specifically their three team members and myself. I asked them to attend the game but no more than two of them came. I was so frustrated. Before the next National team game I again gave the same speech about the same issue. This time it seemed they understood. It seems that no one had understood how important it was to their teammates; who played on the national team, the importance of the qualification to the European championship, and generally for women’s basketball in our country that they attend. I reminded them of times they had been there for their friends during graduations or weddings and explained to them that qualifying for the European Championship was just as important for these players. I explained to them that in order to be by the side of your teammate it does not require you to like them or have the same personality. They simply have to stand by their teammate’s side because she is one of “us”. It might seem like I forced my will upon them but I insist they do these things to help build our relationships. It was a pleasure to see them at the next National Team game but deep down I knew we had a lot of work to do to improve their relationships. I used many of the tricks I mentioned at the beginning of this article but my intentions was to talk to them heart to heart. I tried to convince them that in order to achieve our goals it was not necessary that the players be friends, they just had to respect each other. They must respect what each person can and cannot do. Our goals focused a lot on the respect of each other, and this was the beginning of friendship and love. Because simply no one cared if they were perfect or not, because each person knew that they were respected for whom she was.
Finally the team had a perfect season, i have never seen a group of players (women or men’s Basketball) old, new, young, stars, not experienced, not much playing time, and foreigners and Greeks have such a great connection. But what impressed me the most was when someone had difficult times, every one of her teammates was by her side trying to make her feel better.
A week ago, (ten months after my first speech/practice) my father passed away. All of my players wanted to be by my side no matter what they had planned to do after the season was over. They supported me not only individually but as a team. Their presence and their words made me feel a lot better. This also showed me the reason why we took the championship without any defeats, although no one thought that were not the best team, it was the fact that the whole season we were united. With a conscious effort they became a team, and whatever the next goal they were going to achieve, they did with a conscious effort!