Блог Этторе Мессины о баскетболе

Questions and Answers: Part 2

Today I will answer a few more questions.

Q: Is it possible to enhance players’ ability to concentrate? If so, what techniques do you use? (Nikolay Bit 9 Марта 2007, 01:31)

A: In my opinion, concentration is one of the most misunderstood concepts. If we ask 10 different people “What is concentration?”, chances are high we get 10 different definitions. My definition is simple. “Concentration is your ability to understand what you’re required to do at some specific moments and your ability to make the best effort to do exactly what you are required to do”.

It’s not easy, though. The ability to concentrate comes with practice, with repetition. The most difficult part about repetition is that it’s generally considered a routine part. Player learns with time how to pay attention to details. It’s imperative to be attentive to details if you’re doing the routine part of your job. As soon as you stop paying attention to details, the quality of your performance drops down dramatically. And the worst thing about it is that you’ll find it out only after a while — maybe after several weeks — when the quality has significantly decreased.

That said, “concentration is also one’s ability to pay attention to details when you do a routine part of your job”. It’s important to control that your players are attentive to details. To manage other people you must know the fundamentals. Let me give you an example. A famous fast food company requires working on regular jobs like dishwashing, making fries and hamburgers for a certain period of time before you can advance to management positions. That means that by the time you become manager you know all the parts of the process involved.

Another big part about coaching job is to make sure that you teach what you want to teach and that you obtain from players what you want to obtain. Let me illustrate. One day the owner and the president of my first club in Bologna Gianluigi Porelli, who is now honorary president of ULEB, told the coach to whom I was an assistant: “I don’t care whether you coach by telephone or you conduct 3 practices a day personally. What matters is how the team plays and the results it has”. He focused coach’s attention on being able to obtain something from players. Coaching is not just about speaking, giving instructions or correcting mistakes. The crucial part of coaching job is about finding a way to get something back from the players.

If you don’t know the fundamentals and you don’t know what you want to obtain from your players and how to obtain it, you cannot create a system where players evolve. Neither you can control the crucial points that determine whether you obtain the result.

Sometimes I go to practice, I’m prepared and focused, so are my players, everything is ready and practice just doesn’t work. Players don’t play well, even if they are trying hard, we make a lot of mistakes. It happens sometimes. But very rarely though. These are days you’d better stop and start the next day. But these are exceptions that prove the rule. Most of the times coach isn’t there just to do talking, but he’s there to obtain what he’s supposed to obtain from the team.

Q: It seems that Andersen still cannot find his game. Don’t you think it’s partly because you changed his position to 4? (treasure 16 Марта 2007, 12:10)

A: Here I make an exception to what I stated in the previous entry. I would like to say a few words about David Andersen. I know there are many discussions about his performance this year. About his struggling to perform at the level he performed at before the injury. Sometimes I get frustrated myself. But David is working very hard every day in practice. And we should not forget (myself, in the first place) that the injury he had was one of the worst injuries I’ve ever seen in my career. Even a year after such an injury it’s very difficult to regain confidence, strength and quickness.

He played a very important role in our team last year. But when he came back he found out that the team with Alexey and Thomas had a completely different balance. The first reason why I use him more in 4 this season is that he usually faces the guys who are weaker physically. This gives him a possibility to perform better while posting people that are less aggressive than he is. The second reason is that I wanted to protect the balance team found with Alexey and Thomas as 5. David is still struggling to find his new role in the team. He sees that Theo plays a very important part even without being in starting five. If David manages to do, as a big man, what Theo does as a guard coming off the bench, he will help us incredibly and add strength we need to win again this year.

Q: I saw the game against Dynamo. And I saw your reaction when Kurbanov made 3 points shot. Was it a step forward for him as a player? (deniss 7 Февраля 2007, 17:01)

A: There are two things that amazed me in this question. The first one is that you noticed what happened. That is a good sign for you as a young coach. It says you’re attentive to details, to the relationship between a coach and a player.

Secondly, I was surprised that you didn’t come to discuss this in person, since we’re working in the same club. My office is always open. I was happy not only because Nikita made this shot, but because he attempted this shot instinctively, without thinking one second. He’s been struggling a lot with his shot this year. But at that moment he felt confident and relaxed to catch and shoot. That was a good sign for me. Unfortunately, after that, he went through other ups and downs and he’s sometimes playing inconsistently. It’s difficult for him, as he needs to find his way between 3 and 4. It’s not easy, because 3 and 4 require different fundamentals to work on.

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