After the last game of the League in Ismaning

Ain’t it funny how day by day nothing changes but when you look back – everything is different.


Goals of now past season (as of 23rd July 2019) can still be read under the team section of U16 Hellgirls on BC Hellenen homepage. Like a reminder that is put there to remind you of all the things you set out to do at the start of the season and now, when the season is over, it’s your job to look back. Look at all of the things that happened in between then and now. Calculate. What did we achieve? What is still there to be achieved? Maybe there is something to be taken to throw away for ever? Questions?

Did we have to achieve though? Does it matter? Questions. Most of the time it’s not the answers, but the questions that are the important part. Recently I talked about it with my young leaders. Importance of setting the right questions. Somehow I feel like I was too concerned of answers for the past months and a good observer would most likely say – Coach… not only the past months, but the whole season. This is what is standing on the Homepage – for non German speakers, I’m sorry, I hope the Google Translator does a good job.

Die erste Aufgabe wird sein einen disziplinierten Grundgedanken innerhalb der Mannschaft zu behalten. Die Hellgirls sollen sich selbst und ihre Mitspielerinnen in die Pflicht nehmen. “Eines meiner Ziele ist es, dass sie sich selber beibringen wie man fischt. Die Verantwortung das Spiel an sich zu nehmen und auch mal ohne Trainer zu lernen und zu verstehen, was man braucht, und was man nicht braucht.” erklärt Valts. Da diese Mannschaft noch eine Mischung aus der U16w und der U14w ist wird eine Hauptaufgabe die Förderung der Basics, der athletischen Fähigkeiten und der Spielintelligenz sein. “Aus meinem Blickwinkel benötigen die U16 Mädels sowohl das Input von Sandy (U12/U14), als auch von Georgia (Damen 1), damit sie die nötigen Schritte machen können um die Hellenen im Seniorenbereich irgendwann zu repärsentieren. Wir säen die Samen heute und in den kommenden Jahren soll diese Arbeit Früchte tragen”.

from U16w section of BC Hellenen homepage (23.07.2019)

Once again it is the First Season. Before taking over the girls I had the opportunity to train our U16-3 guys. But that is another story. Teach them how to teach themselves how to fish. I thought it will be a piece of cake. Boy I was wrong. As it turns out, this will be a long rise together with the Hellgirls. Not only that, turns out that teaching the basics is not as hard as learning the basics yourself. Keep it simple! Nice and easy. Ha! Probably the hardest thing to do in basketball is to keep at the basics and master them not only as player, but also as a Coach. Technique. Determination to do those 1’000 repetitions. Just as the saying from the far east: “I am not afraid of a man who has trained one hundred moves one time, I am afraid of a man who has trained one move one hundred times.” Of course they are talking about the discipline of martial arts.

What goes for the integration – question was good, execution was not. We are at it for the next season though. Mainly because it didn’t happen on the last one. So there is that. Sometimes looking back gives the necessary push, but I am not doing this whole build up just to explain something we already know. These travels are going much further and deeper than looking back eight months and drawing conclusions what went wrong. Questions?

Now, let’s do the usual stuff. Point one: Develop a strong culture of discipline. This is a tough one at any team, at any age, but I dare to say that U16 age group is one nasty piece of job. If you had the ability to think clearly before the puberty kicks in and you will able to do that again in like 20-30 years after it kicks out, then at the moment of 14-16 years you get wrecked by your own body and hormones. Discipline? This is the word many of us use, but rarely follows. Well, not all the time at least. Though, this is one of the most important things in life (in my humble and objective opinion). This is the asset to have when everything goes wrong, shit hits the fan, you fall to the bottom. You get the picture. When that happens, well then, if you have walked the way of discipline it will keep you going. When all breaks, discipline will get you through to the other side. Over the storming river. Sometimes slowly, but it will. That is why this is number one thing in my book of Rules. Follow the discipline as good as you can and as often as you can. We are only humans and everyone from us slips time to time, but we still can do our best most of the time.

That said – girls did a good job by accepting the challenge in building the discipline habits. We are still just at the foundations, but I am pretty proud of my team and how it has developed it’s discipline. Next season we will start to build the walls.

This brings us to the usual stuff – Point two: Build a structure, teach players to keep each other in check. Woah, yeah – this is even harder than the discipline part. Thing is, to keep others in check you must keep yourself in check first. Like, all the time. It’s a big point for a 14-16 year olds, but the was I see it, they are youth. Transition age, they are not kids anymore, they want and are able to make decisions and should make them. That also means they should learn to keep themselves in check and additionally the others also. At least the team you are playing in, twice-trice a week for two hours of training. Now, this is a part of leadership concepts I have been teaching my leaders. Are we there yet as a team? No. Do we have a chance? Yes. Starting with few, hopefully there will be many.

Point three: Teaching to learn for themselves or teaching them how to teach themselves how to fish. As mentioned above this is one of the main points in my trainings and again – in my humble, objective opinion this is a very important concept to learn in life for life. It’s also not an easy skill to learn, it takes years and years of practice and dedication to master it. Heck, I don’t think I even believe you can master it. You can get very good at it, though. There will always be something more to learn and know in this aspect as our times and society is always changing. Teaching yourself is an important skill to have. As I have read and watched some works of people much smarter than me (like doctors, scientists and the sort) I can take that information they have gathered in their fields of expertise, work and research – compile it and draw conclusions according to my experience. So, I have to say that what I’ve found is – humans are not made to remember everything, but to generate ideas and work with informations. Take input of information and create something new and useful. That said – learning new things and learning to learn is a VERY useful thing. You don’t have to remember everything, but you have to have the ability to find the things you need put them together to achieve whatever you are up to doing. This is what we can also beautifully learn through basketball – get to know what the Coach want to achieve and go and learn how to get it done. How to gather information. How to put it in use. Teach yourself how to teach yourself to fish.

Point four? Yes, it seems so! Basic skills, basketball IQ, Physical ability. So… what is this? Let’s start with the basic skills. What do I mean by basic skills? Running. Dribbling. Jumping. Well, that connects directly with Physical ability. Athletes. I don’t want only to develop “basketball players”. I want to develop athletes and “gamers”. The last one people are used to hear in internet gaming scene, but the way I see it – gamers are the people who are able to learn games. Sports games, card games, board games, video games. Whatever. They are able to take the rules and the environment of the game and develop a strategy with according tactics of how to win the game. Learn from better players (and Coaches) and think fast enough to adapt themselves to different situations in the game. They are able to have discussions about the games what they are playing and find it interesting. They find “playing” appealing and fun! Putting themselves through the training, which sometimes (or most likely most of the time) require much of repetition and training isn’t something mind numbing for them, but they see it as a way of getting better individually and actually have the drive to perform. This is what I call “the gamers” aspect and it goes on through the life. Because you can make everything a game. Later going into life and work scene (again in my humble and objective opinion) the people with “gamers mindset” will be able to figure out how the field and rules work and get better at almost ANYTHING they choose to. Plus, they will do it much faster than all the other people. Maybe they won’t outperform the “natural talents”, but they surely will outperform anybody else in the action sooner or later. So the mindset of “gamer” is also having the Basketball IQ or understanding of the game if you will. Some have it higher, some lower. I believe it still can be developed to some extent taking in consideration the individuals abilities.
Whew, so this is what I mean with developing gamers. People who have fun at cracking the game of basketball and developing themselves to achieve this trait. What goes for athletes – that is someone who has the ability to be physically fit enough to change between sports/games. Other sports look for others skills, but when you are physically an athlete it is easier for you to change between different sports or learn more than one over time. That also includes keeping it basic – master the necessary skills and physique that are required to achieve the goals of the game efficiently.

Last, but not least – Point five: Cooperating with other coaches! Cooperation started between the youth coaches and what we were lacking was cooperation with coaches from adult teams. So this is the next step – partial integration of youth players in adult teams. Won’t be touching this point much. Looking forward to the work we will do in the next season.

This is it! Haha, got you, no it isn’t. I’ve not written in many months. Many, see I’ve even lost the count! You didn’t think I will let you off that easy, did you? Those were the goals. The points. The things we need to keep track of what we have achieved. What has been done, what needs to be done. This doesn’t include one very important aspect of the journey we experienced – the story itself.

You see, the last months have been very busy. Many changes, new things came in my life and they took full focus of my time. Still are. That’s not the story though. This is not the tale from out there, there will be another time for those – this is a story from inside.

Goals is one thing. Goals are the “end” – what you get when you are strong, able and disciplined enough to go the distance and write the checkmark in the tick-box. What I DID FORGET in the last year is that the journey is far more important than the goals set prior to it. Goals are nice to check, but… what happens in between is what people write books about. The stories. Emotions. Small things.

Sometimes we make the process more complicated than we need to. We will never make a journey of a thousand miles by fretting about how long it will take or how hard it will be. We make the journey by taking each day step by step and then repeating it again and again until we reach our destination.

Joseph B. Wirthlin

This article is also a result of many small steps. It has been about two or more months since I started to write. From one side it is because I had forgotten how important those small steps are and didn’t participate of the daily/weekly writing for awhile now. Now, when I look back, the last season was stressful and fast paced. Lost without mindfulness. Lost without stories. Gone by.

For me it is a good indicator to stop. Something feels very off. You know that gut feeling, right? To some extent everybody has it. Some choose to ignore it completely, some rely too much on it. I like to rely on it periodically – when it really kicks in. In past months it started to really kick in. Something is off. Drifting. Maybe it is my perception? Not completely understanding the environment I find myself in? The Team is changing. It is changing because of each individual element in it – players. Recent conversation with one of the fathers, who have had his experience in these changes, let me gain another perspective on the things.

Reflection. Never forget the simple rules and teaching in life. As I started my journey a few years back a good friend of mine suggested for me a must-read book “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” by Stephen R. Covey where one of the lessons is to be able to differentiate inner and outer circles of influence. As I continued to learn and read works of others I started to see that this very idea is not a new one. In fact, it is a very ancient one. Recently I picked up the philosophy of Stoicism and one of the first ideas what popped out was – differentiate between what we can change and what we can’t.

The chief task in life is simply this: to identify and separate matters so that I can say clearly to myself which are externals not under my control, and which have to do with the choices I actually control. Where then do I look for good and evil? Not to uncontrollable externals, but within myself to the choices that are my own…

Epictetus, ‘Discourses’, 2.5.4-5

Never forget the action of non-action. Some things must let be and only need to be understood as the part of the nature. That’s how they will yield. I had forgotten these truths of time in the last season. Well, at least for the last months of it. I was like a fisherman, trying to catch a fish with a chocolate. You see, I thought that the chocolate is the ultimate bait. Because I liked it. It might be for some very specific kind of fish, but those are not the fish in my pound. To catch the fish I have access to I need to understand them and present with the proper bait of their liking. That is the way of getting them out of the water and transport into other bodies of water. It’s the natural way. Understand the nature and you can catch and train them, disobey the laws of the nature and you will fail. No bending or breaking will overcome the soft and flowing.

That is the biggest realization from the past months. Asking the right questions. What can I control? What can I not? If I cannot control it – let it flow. That I can – understand it and take action. Get the right bait. This is an art I must learn. But first…

Understand the prey.