Author: Valts_R (Page 2 of 4)

United World Games in Klagenfurt am Wörthersee(AT) Part 2 of 3.

This Post turned to be way longer than I expected, even as a Draft. I ended up fighting with my urge to tell this story from my perspective and to just cut some stuff out to shorten this whole thing and make it “a quick read”. Now, as you can see I decided for former over the latter. This is about 10 minutes of reading, so if you came for a quick re-cap, it’s not here. This is a story.

DAY 1

Bed, for me (or someone my size respectively [1.94m, 110kg]), were a bit too small and in middle of first night I wanted to just sleep on the ground. Only thing that held me against this was the fact that I didn’t have anything to separate myself from the ground itself (except this 3mm industrial rug). There was also no trusting into my sleeping bag either, as it was a cheap last-minute solution. So only thing to do was to sleep as straight as possible and try not to move as much as I had to be used back home.

Nothing is better than waking up early in the morning after a tiring day. Especially when one finds oneself in start of adventure in distant place away from home. It loads you up with energy and I always wonder where it comes from. We are here, we got things to do and you just get up and get going.

No sleeping in, I find myself awake five minutes before six hundred hours. If yesterday was hot and dry, then this morning was humid and cold as it was raining at least half a night and continued to come pouring down. Maybe that was the reason why sleep was so good this night. If I hadn’t the luck last night to hit the showers later than their closing time, I’d be out right now and shower under the Heavens. Sandy came with good news that pouring should stop at around eight hundred hours, about the time we had scheduled to leave our settlement and journey to “Pädag” gym.

One would think that city of tents would still be at rest in this time of a hour. The one, including me, would be very wrong. This was Klagenfurt. People were already wake and going about their morning routines, even the kids. I woke up before I had told my team to, that gave me some extra time to prepare my backpack for the day. Prepare clothing, check on the documents, take my coaching stuff. All set. Now I just had to wake up the youth at six forty-five as I had decided they had no business to be up earlier. For my surprise though, some of the girls were already up! Power of habits. It just made my work easier as I just could say for everybody to wake up and instruct those already wake to make sure that it happens. For me it meant extra time to think and double-check everything.

At about seven hundred we could move out to get some breakfast. As I stepped out of the tent I found myself surrounded already. Team knew what it meant to be on time. Very good. One issue less for me to handle, in coming days I just had to pressure this point to make sure it works every time.

Breakfast was pretty good. One could get oneself full easily and load that energy up in form of bread rolls with cheese or ham, some pancakes, muesli, yogurt and fruits. If one would find oneself a little bit cold at this rainy morning – they served various hot beverages to make oneself warmer. So we did just that – loaded ourselves up as at eight hundred hours we had to move out together with others to Pädag facilities. That was a game of mixed team. Our Romanian friends from “Basketball Leben Project” and some players from our HellBoys and HellGirls teams. They participated out of competition as they exceeded the legal age limit. We were on time and went down to prepare (brush our teeth, change, get bags ready) for the upcoming game and the day, then take some time and wait for others.

As U14 HellGirls established their punctuality, we had to wait a couple of minutes for others before we could move out. Brief moments like this allows to talk over the plan for the day and as the day continues everybody knows what is coming up.

Pouring had stopped and it was fine rain sprinkling over us. It wouldn’t get us too wet. Instead it felt very nice and refreshing on the skin, always an enjoyable change after longer periods of hotness and dry air. It was a very fascinating sight to observe from the side as our group of around 50+ (don’t know the correct number…) people moved through wet streets of Klagenfurt. One team. Mood was as it should be in a rainy day  morning being half-awake. On every breath nostrils were hit of this magical chemical mix of I-don’t-know-what, but oh-it-smells-so-good. Energizing. Our walk soon was over as it took only about ten minutes on foot to reach Pädag. Though, this short distance made all the difference as the group seemed to be more awake as at the time of departure.

The gym. Haha, wow. It hit us hard – court was smaller than a normal court, than we all were used to. Three-point line ran into sidelines at the wings and from outter lines to walls it was barely enough to fit a bench and a person sitting on it. If you stretched out your legs even a little bit – you would find yourself on the court already. This would be a nightmare for HellTeams who were used to spacing and Fast-break basketball. That said, we packed it full with our HellGirls and HellBoys for the game to cheer our players up! Hashtag of picture on BC Hellenen Instagram said #wearecomingwithanarmy. Rightly so. Magical.

For some reason I don’t recall this game very good. Hard to say why. One of the reasons could have been that in my thoughts I was not present. Looking, but not seeing. No register. My mind went over how we will get back to Players Town, eat some lunch and looked at the bus schedules to get the right time when we should leave. I didn’t want to miss nothing, better to be half an hour early than to be five minutes late.

Let’s fast forward a bit. We stayed after the game one and watched the game two a bit before going back to city of tents. There we would get some food left over from yesterday (mostly perishables as cucumbers, tomatoes, bread, meat etc.) and mix it up with some fresh one from above (there were “fast-food” joints upstairs in stadium offering burgers, noodles, salads and such things).

Now we had to make our way to “Sankt Ruprecht 1”. As our game was at fourteen hundred hours, I planned to arrive one hour before tip-off just to be on the safe side. Bus ride was the least of our problem, driver was super nice and let us out right at the stop where we needed to get off. My next worry was number “1” in gym name as it indicates that there must be more courts at this address, but as we stepped into the gym, this worry disappeared and new one took it’s place. There were three courts. St. Ruprecht 1, 2 and 3. All of them next to each other, also “Dreifach Halle” (three-part gym), courts about 70 centimeters away one from another and with NO CURTAINS between them. This promised very messy games itself. Of course as it usually is for courts this size – also here three point line ran into the sidelines at the wings and because of next court being so close, one could easily oversee the lines in the heat of the moment, if one had been used to train and play on normal-sized courts. Habits. This would later cost us an important game.

Oh, by the way, as wonderful coach as I am after parting from our bus it dawned upon me that in my whole planning I had forgot about one very important component needed for the game – to take with us two balls Size 6 for warming up… Now, normally I would go back and get them, but we were on time now already and the ride was far enough not to make it back neither with bus nor running on foot. Though, thanks to Heavens once again I got lucky as it turned out Sandy was playing in St. Ruprecht with U12w HellGirls right before us. They had some Size 5 balls, but it was way better than no balls at all, so for our next two games we would do a warm-up with these two.

My focus was on Game 1 where we would meet Austrian home team – “Team Kärnten”. Gut feeling said that this is the game to take today as our chances against Greek girls would be slimmer. As we waited for other games to finish we did some pre-game briefing where I wanted to determine what offense we would be running. Here I stumbled upon the fact, that they had been improvising most of their games as they just went – ‘let us play as we play, we just “get” the offense’. Oh, boy – you just don’t get the offense, this will be hard time in scoring. Once again I had to work from behind, from defense and make them push and control the ball in specific way. I awaited that as always – opponents would mostly suck at shooting or have just one (max two) good shooters per team at this age group. They would want to go through middle and that’s where we would have to close it and force ball to sideline and baseline. If that worked, we had a chance. Offensively I should mostly rely on Team itself and their ability to use what they’ve learned in previous season. My goal was to get them out of the middle, spread the defense and penetrate-kick. Take open shots if given. As I learned later through tournament, I could easily better their defensive end as girls had the hunger to work for it, but offensive end had to develop massively in future if we wanted even to have a chance the next season. Now, it was time to get on the floor.

Game 1: HellGirls versus “Team Kärnten” (AT)

Note: Game mode was 4 quarters with 8 minutes of playtime each on “running time” (that means, only the last 2 minutes of the last quarter are being stopped), 5 fouls, 1 minute between quarters and 2 minutes half time break. Very fast paced game and as it turned out – impossible to foul out more aggressive, fouling teams. You could just avoid baskets and push turnovers by aggressive, fouling defense. Not something I was willing to push as a coach, Hellenen play as clean defense as possible.

First quarter

As awaited opponents started strong and our offense was lacking. within four minutes of playing time we were down 9 to 0. Biggest problem was their #5 which scored 7 points out of those 9. We had to get her locked down. After minute four our #63 managed to score with ‘and one’ and also made the free throw. For unknown reason to me opponents took a time out at 5 minute mark which worked in our favor. We bettered our defense, but our offense still couldn’t make baskets. Shots went up, but didn’t go in. Team Kärnten made two more buckets and now lead with +10, 13 to 3. After few tries we managed to get ball under and our #68 scored twice keeping our head just above the water and in the game. After that at minute seven opponents scored another basket and we got free throws for our #68 from which one was made. We ended first quarter with 7 point deficit; 8 to 15 for Team Kärnten.

For 2nd quarter we had to press opponents more on defense and make them uncomfortable, get defensive AND offensive rebounds and spread their defense. Get the pace of the game down. Be smarter. Take better shots.

Second quarter

Oooh YES! HellGirls came into second quarter clanging and banging. Our #63 opened the quarter with a beautiful 3 pointer in the first minute. Penetration started to yield fruits and shots were better, girls pulled off ‘and one’ (free throw missed), and put up some more points. We managed to push them more on the side and deny the middle, they made only one basket up to seventh minute! We responded with some more buckets  after and going 18 to 17 at minute seven. Opponents made two baskets taking the lead, but HellGirls, seeing the bleeding of their opponents, didn’t let them recover and responded  with another two buckets down – we went into the half-time break with good 1 point lead; 22 to 21 for HellGirls.

This was one of those games where two teams of the same level met. Win is therefore determined by the willpower, unselfishness and focus. Now, I had to keep the moral of the team high and motivate them to push through. What I liked about this team was the chemical reaction. They were good together. Lacking some practical skill of basketball, but they were good together. That is something that I felt other team lacked.

Third quarter

Third quarter confirmed my expectations. Hard game. Referees forced fast paced game. Not much of fouling, not much of rewards for it. Whole quarter got two free throw attempts, one for opponents with ‘and one’ and one for us as two regular shots (both missed). Much back and forth for this quarter, we sticked to our plan in defense and denied middle penetration, pushing ball to the side. Girls had much to learn from this defense, but for now against this team it worked just fine. Opponents made 6 points this quarter and we made 4. We went out with -1 point; 26 to 27 for Team Kärnten.

Fourth quarter

This was it. I did my best to talk up the HellGirls and get that flame going. We went into fourth strong with dedication to take this Game 1 win. Defense worked beautifully and opponents couldn’t find a way to attack it and score for seven (!!!) minutes. We used this time to get some baskets and take the lead with 33 to 27. HellGirls missed three free throws again and I began to see a pattern – this is what could cost us games in the long run, but for now – we dictate the game. Team Kärnten made their first points in fourth quarter after minute seven after receiving some free throws. Made both and burned our lead only to 4 points. After that it went basket here and there. We made one, they made one, we made and one, missed the free throws (pattern…), they got some shots, both went off, we got some shots and also both went off. At the end opponents managed to get another bucket, but the game was already at expiration. HellGirls took down Team Kärnten in hard game 37 to 33. Win was in our hands and it was good.

Now we had to wait about thirty to forty minutes to the next game at sixteen hundred  hours against “Katerini” from Greece. They had a game on the court next to us against “Stuttgart Eagles” from USA. They won it with +2, 20 to 18. It surely will be a tough game.

What worried me was the lack of energy for girls after the game. In downtime they seemed to “fall asleep” a bit. Mentally already back in the camp and eating dinner, chilling. Against strong team like “Katarini” this mental state could definitely be of a big issue. They are prepared and has good offensive patterns. Nothing less I’d expect from Greeks at world class tournament like this.

Game 2: HellGirls versus “Katerini” (GR)

First half

Let’s say – I expected no less. They were prepared, they were strong, they were focused. We were not. The mental focus was simply not there for HellGirls. I tried to get them wake up as fast as possible, but team was sleeping whole first half of the game. HellGirls scored first two points and then it just went downhill from there. Katerini were dominating. They had a good defense, they could lock individually and pressure the ball. For offense they ran two things: 1. ball hand-off over the 3 point line by swinging it side to side till defense failed to switch, so causing a hole to penetrate; 2. setting a post on the free throw line and playing the ball in, then doing pick+cut causing the defense a hard to defend switch or an empty cut and pass. If that didn’t work they could also pull up some jump shots outside from zone through board and make some points that way. Very strong and well prepared offense. HellGirls weren’t ready to defend it.

This offensive pattern completely crashed us down in first half. As they were scoring, we weren’t, if we went over, they locked us down. We lost first quarter with 4 to 16 and second quarter with 0 to 12. We went into the half time break with 4 to 28. Morale was down, focus was down. There was only one thing to do – up the work on defensive end. By now it was clear to me that with  this team at this moment there was no way I could match offensive power of Katerini. What I could do is to try and stop their offense or at least slow it down. First, we had to get our switches right. It was clear that HellGirls had not met opponents of this caliber and didn’t know how to defend tactics they used. If you can’t win the game – you can learn from it.

Third quarter

Third quarter goal was to receive less points. Learn to read and defend the offensive pattern of Katerini and do good switches. Communicate on D. It started to work. Because of that also mental state came back to the girls and they were more focused than before. We could slow down the opponents significantly and receive just 7 points in third quarter meanwhile making 6 points ourselves. It won’t win us the game, but it would teach us some valuable lessons. We could’ve also taken this quarter, but sadly it can’t be done when free throw shooting is off the point. This had to be take care of till the start of the season and go up to 50% at least. HellGirls went down this quarter with just 6 to 7. Way, way better than previous two quarters. Stand was 10 to 35 for Katerini.

Fourth quarter

If you can’t get what you want, then want what you can get. To keep the team sane and give them the sense of achievement against more prepared team I set up a following goals: 1. get our score over 15 and 2. don’t let them score 50. And they got it, based on experience from third quarter and some guidance from me, HellGirls played beautiful fourth quarter defensively! I saw the potential this team had if handled correctly. We managed to get three baskets and fulfill the first goal and due to the good defensive end we received just 8 points that way finishing also the second goal. We went down to strong opponent who took us by surprise and out of focus with 16 to 43. Still proud of my team by being able to gather themselves mentally and execute beautiful second half. This is something that will create a good team in days to come.

Day 1 Evening

After the game everybody was well-deserved hungry. I decided to take alternative bus route which seemed shorter as the original one as the buses drove only in one direction – in circles. Waiting for the bus allowed me some time to explain a few things to the kids about what had happened today on the court and deepen their understanding of the game. Answer some questions. Of course those were just a few minutes as focus and interest quickly wanders off at this age. I will take it though, better to use five minutes like these and it will add up over time.

Well, bus ride back to stadium was fun, mood was great and we had a win today. Back at camp it was time to hit the showers, freshen up and get something to eat. After that it was a free time till twenty-two hundred. Some watched sports on big screen, some went to play some games. What kids always do. Tomorrow we had to get up and be in gym at nine hundred hours as at zero-nine-thirty we were meeting “Stuttgart Eagles” (USA). This game would determine our advancement out of group stage. If won, we would go out as second and have a chance to play for first place or third, if lost we would finish third at the group stage and then there was only one game for fifth place. Important game, once again strong opponents, but for now – it was time to rest and bond with others.

 

Coach Valts

ONE TEAM, HELLENEN GO!

PART ONE HERE

PART THREE HERE

United World Games in Klagenfurt am Wörthersee(AT), Part 1 of 3.

 

UWG

Introduction

As it goes with all good adventures, also this one started spontaneously. It didn’t crawl up to me slowly, nor did it send any warnings. It happened in January, one fine morning I was at work and received message from Sandy.

Sandy, January 18, 2018; 10:45AM:

“Du Valts, wir brauchen noch einen Coach für Klagenfurt. Kommst du mit? Das wäre saulustig! 21.6.-25.6. Bitteeeeeee!” (You Valts, we need one more Coach for Klagenfurt. Are you coming? It will be so much fun! Pleaseeeeee!)

I had been hearing previously form other Coaches and some kids how nice this Tournament is. Shortly after receiving some minor specifications and checking my schedule I came to conclusion.

Valts, January 18, 2018; 11:11AM:

“Ok.”

I knew in an instant moment that I had to be there. Had to take this chance. A few thoughts ran through my mind, but the whole process took about ten minutes to make a decision – I am going. As I find myself in between tasks at work, I could take a quick glance in my agenda and determine that I had three of necessary four days free already! The fourth one I could cover with my vacation day or some of them overworked hours. So, from time perspective everything would be fine. Nothing was planned in those days also. Only thing I had to get afterwards would be my wife’s forgiveness as I was again taking decision according to basketball on my own. Fortunately for me – she is forgiving on this matter, much love my darling! Decision had been made under ten minutes. Oh boy, after four months I was happy that it was so…

The deal was that I would go with the already Organized group of Coaches and all the kids Teams. I would receive one of the U14 boys teams, look after them and coach them at the tournament. Sounded like a pretty sweet deal for me!

Now, for those who don’t know what United World Games are (I mean, I didn’t know also till I got there, haha) – that’s a multiple day tournament for kids and youth up to  age group of U19 in thirteen (!!!) different sports! This year they managed to crack mark of over 10’000 (!!!!!) participants. I mean, that is one hell of a number for a youth tournament if you ask me. It includes about (or over…) 40 nations from all over the World. Tournament stands for peace, tolerance and friendship all through power of coming together and competing in different kinds of sports. Sport unites us for greater good.

[CLICK HERE to read Official Release from BC Hellenen website by Sidney d’Almeida]

Anyway, little did I know that I won’t be coaching an U14 boys team this year. As between ‘saying yes’ and departure I took over an U16 (mixed U14) girls team, it made sense to coach and look after U14 girls team instead. Now, it wouldn’t have been a biggie, but I was just getting into coaching girls and my practices consisted of finding my way in the dawn. I had yet to discover the way how to handle a girls team properly and efficiently. Well, as it turned out – this tournament gave me the opportunity to understand and grow enormously as a Coach. Not only that, I had a chance not everyone gets – to spend four days with members of a team you are going to Coach next season. That is in about three to four months we will go on the field for our first game. And this came meanwhile being in the off-season! Why is it so important? Let me explain.

My plan for the four days was to find out how the team plays, bond with the players, gain their trust and further establish my position as the new Coach. One big thing was to observe players and their habits as individuals and AS A TEAM. I had observed some of the thing in practices already, but there was just so much more to see in “game environment”, especially when on tournament mode which is faster paced as regular season games (also more stressed due to Time-Pressure and little recovery time).

Overall I was very surprised of my discoveries in only four games from which we won only the first one. Despite that I consider this as very successful tournament for our team as I managed to breakdown and achieve many things vital to our upcoming 2018/2019 season. Also there is a reason why this post is “Part 1” as I will break down the games on the later posts and share what I took out of them. We had four very different Opponents and all very strong and respectable. Each game was a gift to gather additional information and prepare for the next season.

Time of plain clothes

We departed from Hellenendome on Thursday afternoon. It took some time to gather all the necessary items and get buses loaded. From my perspective it went very good and we were soon hitting the road. It was about four to five hour trip from Munich to Klagenfurt, the actual duration depends on how crowded the roads are and if you get stuck in traffic jam (or if you don’t – how much time it takes to go around it). Trip itself was very calm and relaxing as most of us used the chance to get some extra sleep before the four day marathon together with the kids. We took just one stop to quickly hit the Whiskey Charlie and refill our mugs with fresh beverages.

We arrived in Klagenfurt am Wörthersee around nineteen hundred, getting out of the vehicle, which took us there, went smooth and even unloading of our belongings didn’t complicate things. I was pretty amazed that such a large group of kids and only a handsome of Coaches could keep logistics under the pressure with no problem and keep it running very fast. Also, right after arriving we had to move the stuff to the tents we would be spending our next three nights. This would become our sanctuary in the night to take a rest or in the daytime to get some minutes off to recharge between the games and events.

Next step was to get all the kids fed. As our friends from Romania joined us, our numbers went a bit over one hundred. Very crazy if you ask me! For this evening we had no food vouchers as we had decided to feed ourselves to spare some resources. As I was not in organizing this whole thing I was happy to see that everything was prepared and we (Coaches) just had to find some tables to put everything on to and get them kids full.

That was pretty much it. After getting evening meal, there was some football to watch on the big screen at the stadium while half of the coaches staff prepared tents for the night. That is, checked if there were right amount of beds in the tents. After that we settled in and put everything in it’s place where it would stay for the next three days. It was decided to wake up early and get some breakfast before getting into the first game at nine hundred. Some of my girls were helping the Romanian team as they needed some extra players and we just mixed it up with some boys and girls from our teams. Some of the coaches advised to wake up between six fifteen and six thirty, but as I didn’t yet know capabilities of my U14 girls team, I decided to go to safe side and get them up at six hundred. Just to be sure everything went by clock.

Well that was pretty much the last evening of plain clothes as tomorrow started the times of helmets and armor for at least two days, depending on how we would play the group stage. For U14 girls we had two groups with four teams in each and in our group we had some good opponents from Austria, United States and Greece. Tomorrow promised some tough games starting at fourteen hundred versus Team Kärnten (AT) and finishing with Katerini (GR) at sixteen hundred.

For now, it was time to rest and save up some strength for tomorrow. We had to get up at six hundred tomorrow clanging and banging – ready to roll.

 

Coach Valts

ONE TEAM, HELLENEN GO!

PART TWO HERE

PART THREE HERE

The second Season.

 

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“The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.”

/Chinese Proverb

Warning long-post: at least 10 minute read. If you’re not into this kind of stuff, go watch some 5 minute cat videos on YouTube instead.

This journey has taken me further than I could have imagined. Now I am two whole seasons behind as a youth basketball coach, finding myself on my way to the third. Many things has happened in the past season and many are yet to happen. Now I am transfering from one U16-2 boys team to two teams: U16-3 boys and U16 girls. Both for good reasons to further challange myself and develop my coaching skills and abilities. This was a great season with my U16-2 boys team. This is recap of all the things I learned and discovered in 2017/2018 season as a youth basketball coach.

Leadership matters. Now I would put this on par with Organisation which I discovered as one of the most crucial aspects of the managament of youth basketball team on my first season as a youth basketball coach. Not just leadership, but leading by example as much as it is possible. My advantage is that I am still playing myself. I could invite boys to my games and they could look how coach is playing. It also made me to do my best to my best ability when I knew they were watching. I had to set example and am still learning how to do it properly and correctly. Never ending story – keep learning everyday. Very important to read about great leaders in history, read autobiographies and learn principles of leadership (as in philosophy, psychology and spirituality). Everything you do – team sees and talks about, then after some time they start to follow and adapt themselves to the example. It will happen especially fast if it is accepted and respected by whole organisation and if it goes along with their own vision of success. Biggest bonus is if by following your example they are bettering themselves in this world and getting noticed from higher ranks in organisation. That’s a complete leadership win.

Keep going. Even if you think you can’t. This was something I had coming for myself crushing down. With my newly found passion for the ball and abitions to become best possible coach I can – reality started to kick in and take toll on me. It started to get hard to juggle work with family (little baby) and the basketball gym with everything it brought with it. I had to coach and attend the games, to do that I had to learn. I also had to train and attend those games aswell. Everything was taking time. Everything was making a pressure. I knew I have to keep going, but I didn’t know how. Mental meltdown at some point. First person to pull me back up was leader of our club Konstantin. I must thank him once again for keeping me up in the game and running. After that I was able to pick up some stuff from books, videos and blogs on hardening up to keep going. It’s still not a piece of cake, but if there is one thing I’ve learned: pain doesn’t go away, you just learn to live with it. So if there comes a point where you think you can’t anymore, then just push through. Find a solution and execute, keep going. If it doesn’t work – repeat. If you still feel going down – get a mentor to help you, to pull you up, to keep you in the game for one last time. Big chances are (from experience of many successful people and leaders) – you will be able to pull yourself and the whole situation together just fine and come out just with some bruises. Keep going, world relies on you.

You are two people away from connecting to billion. This is the idea I heard from Jordan Peterson in one of his lectures put up on Internet. Brilliant personality and teacher. The more I thought about it and looked around myself I found new ways to connect with people and make new friends and collegues. In ones lifetime one will earn at least 1000 friends and collegues. Now you are at one million, of course each of them will acquire also at least 1000 friends and collegues – that brings us up to one billion. Yes, sometimes it looks like each of one of us are just small, insignificant beings on this rock floating around in small solar system, but that’s not the case. We are part of smart, intelligent network just few string away of making it count. I like to talk to people and connect with them, make friends and collegues. Work together. The more I do that, the easier it gets. Someone knows someone, that someone knows someone else. Do your thing, do it well and people will work with you. Together you make this World a better place. Remember – you are two people away from a billion.

Mental game plays a huge role. This could be the headlife of this season with my U16-2 boys. If you browse this blog for the game recaps I wrote of the season you will notice, that we struggled with mental blocks the whole time. It took many hours of research and looking for solutions, talking to mentors and other coaches. Never underestimate the mental game. Discipline, habits, effort, work ethic, attitude… All those things make up the mental game. Super important. I could but this right after top 1 in list, that is Organisation and Leadership.

Learn the rules religiously and get to know the referee side. One single thing that made me better as a player and a coach at the games was getting my basketball referee license. Turned my game understanding and dealing with referees to 180 degrees. As I started to referee some low-league youth basketball games it was enough for me to understand how the referees sees us. I was already pretty good at looking from other peoples perspectives to things, but this was a game changer. Now I spend also more time teaching rules to my players and making them understand the game better through them. Also teaching them how the referee sees the game. Some even made their licenses and it helped me to spread the message among the players as it is better if players hear information not just from coach, but also among themselves.

 

Wins doesn’t matter. Player development does. When all is said and done (or thrown and rebounded) wins doesn’t matter. Players won’t remember the particular won or lost games. What they will remember is if you made them better players or not. Better human beings or not. Wether under your watch they suffered or developed themselves. If at the season end you can say you won the most possible games, but players suffered from that – I dare to say you suck, it’s wrong and please stop doing that or stop coaching. After a long season we finished at low end of the table and I don’t regret a second not taking wins over the player development. I saw my guys develop training by training, game by game and if it meant to lose most of them – be it, but they got better and more experienced through that. They might not have won this season, but I know for sure it made them better for future seasons and future teams. Never sacrifice player development over a win. Never.

If it is your calling – follow it. This is according to the quote at the start of the post. I hadn’t decided what to do and the best option would have been to start coaching and learning this stuff before ten years, but I am where I am. The second best time is to do it now. If you ever come to realization that you have missed something – just do it now. Past doesn’t matter, look in the future.

After all this I must thank my club BC Hellenen München it’s leadership and all the people (especially my boys of U16-2) there for all the given possibilities and trust they have put in me over these two seasons and everything that is to follow for the next one. We are going for the greatness.

ONE TEAM, HELLENEN GO!

Coach Valts

BCH U16-2 vs SpVgg Höhenkirchen 1 (2nd game)

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“If you’re never satisfied with what you have achieved, you’re never going to be satisfied with what you do achieve.” /Chris LoCurto

 

We first met this team on off-site game earlier this season and went down 60 to 34. (Read here…) That was a game to learn a lot from and keep many things in mind for the next ones. Höhenkirchen is a respectable team in this youth league sitting at the middle (place 5) out of 10 teams. We are still sitting at place 9 and not breaking the set  goals. Developing, but not winning. This was the 2nd last game we would have this season and winning it would’ve meant some confidence boost going into off-season. Didn’t happen – we lost again 65 to 74. Now we’re off to last game of the season against München Baskets which we have to win with at least +24 to be able to finish the season in Place 8 instead of 9. This will be a task of U16-1 Coach Sidney as I won’t be able to Coach this last game myself. Now to re-cap the last game.

First Quarter

To be honest first quarter was like the whole game and the whole game was like the first quarter. We started out by getting minus 7 (11 to 4) in first four minutes and never recovered those 7 points at the end losing by 9 points (letting opponents score the last 2 points in last second…). At this point #5 was showing his willingness to score while the team was focused on keeping #10 in check which was a problem last game also. Funny thing is that we focused on #10 a little bit too much which allowed others to score as a result. First quarter ended 20 to 14 for Höhenkirchen. A score with which you can work with.

Second Quarter

As said the second quarter went on at the same manner. Teams exchanged points, our defense and focus was at the best in this quarter. After this quarter I was pretty positive that if we pushed full-court defense for the last two quarters we could take the game. Players looked good and we still had managable score after half time 40 to 32 (second quarter went down with 20 to 20). After some talking and tactics for rest of the game in lockers we went out again.

Third Quarter

Unfortunately for us the opponents came out more focused than we did and pushed. Both of their main players #5 and #10 were doing a great offensive and making our defense suffer while penetrating it due to lack of focus. Our offensive were stagnating a little bit, which wouldn’t have been a big of a problem if defense was running. Though, mental block came again and we couldn’t run defense as good as before and instead of crawling out of -6 pit we dug it deeper to achieve -12. 60 to 48 after third.

Fourth Quarter

The only quarter we managed to win with 17 to 14, but which didn’t bring us the glory. Little mistakes came together and made a big impact. Opponents had small, but good roster and we didn’t deliver. It all came together and we went down at the end  with 65 to 74. It was a bit painful, because we could’ve, but didn’t. So there’s that. Thanks for the game!

Summary

Long season. We have worked on ourselves and we bacame much better than we started. Still not enough. The only reason I am awaiting the off-season is because it will allow me to look back at everything, understand what we did wrong and what exactly needs to be done. One more game is ahead of us and we have a plan to win it to land 8th place instead of 9th. It will be a tough job though. Still, games like these make you realize that only place to look for answer is in the mirror. Oneself is the problem and oneself is also the answer. Opponents are good, so the only way to win is to develop yourself. Keep training, keep learning, keep going. This wasn’t a one year plan, this is a damn beggining of one hundred year reign. Await us, we are coming.

 

Coach Valts

BCH U16-2 vs TSV Haar 2

 

“Ain’t it funny how day by day nothing changes, but when you look back – everything is different.” /C. S. Lewis

Last Sunday (28.01.) we met TSV Haar 2 in Hellenendome for a rematch. At first time we met, on off-site game at Haar, we lost with 42 to 34. It was another painful loss back then, because I knew we could have taken it. Now it was time for rematch and show what we had learned in past months. I knew that opponents didn’t sleep and Haar is a very respectable team. This is their second U16 team as first one plays in Bezirksoberliga (2nd Place with 2 points behind 1st – Jahn München). For their second team they have Kreisliga where they are currently at Place 7, two places over us. There was no doubt that if we wanted to win – we had to give our best. Focus from minute one, control the ball in defense, make their best players tired and make our baskets in offense. If we were able to do it – then we had a chance to defend Hellenendome and take another important win in Round 2. Important for our mental strength and confidence for upcoming game at Ottobrunn next weekend.

First Quarter

In first quarter our guests started stronger and made our defense suffer. We managed to score first two points of the game and Haar answered with swift 3-pointer right after. After another made basket and two missed free-throws our offense struggled and Haar managed to penetrate our defense and create good scoring abilities. Our team seemed to be asleep for first quarter and we went down with 8 to 15, Haar leading after first.

Second Quarter

On second quarter team woke up, Hellboys came in dealing a blow. Defense was in control which allowed offense to thrive! We had a good run with good scoring possibilities and team made 25 points this quarter. Haar made only 9 points on second quarter and all were made by #44. So we had managed to neutralize other guys and our concern after the halftime would be this particular player. With this successful quarter we could come back and over the top with 25 to 9 for us we went in halftime break with 9 point lead, 33 to 24.

Third Quarter

Haar had something saved and after halftime break started strong by drawing two fouls from us in first two minutes and scoring 4 points (for our luck missed 2 freethrows). Middle of the quarter went better for us where due to good defense we had some extra ball control in offense and managed to penetrate opponent’s defense. Last two minutes went better for them as we failed to perform in offense and quarter ended with a draw 8 to 8, 41 to 32 we went in fourth.

Fourth Quarter

After some stronger words from my side guys went in. Message delivered and we started strong by scoring 7 points without an answer. Best Haar could do was to draw 2 fouls and get 2 points out of them. With 5 minutes in fourth quarter we were up with 11 to 4. Hellboys made opponent Coach to take a time-out. This did good for players of Haar and they picked up pace to try and even the game. Our main headache stayed the number 44, but before the minute 39 his fuel ran out. From that point onward game turned for us and we could score some more baskets from freethrows and finish fourth quarter with 21 to 16. Hellboys hold their ground in Hellenendome and celabrated victory against strong opponents with 62 to 48.

Summary

In this game I saw how far guys have come since first meeting TSV Haar 2 last year. They had developed their basic skills and grown mentally. Confidence was better, they trusted each other and themselves to take and make shots. To make DECISIONS. Very important aspect that has appeared in this teams repertoire. The more decisions they make, the more they will learn – either by succeeding or failing. This team has taken a good direction and we have another hard off-site game this weekend against TSV Ottobrunn (currently Place 6, three places above us). Another tough opponent. Team looks good and despite winning Ottobrunn on Round 1 with 75 to 50 at Hellendome this upcoming game won’t be easy and will take all our focus from first whistle to the very last one.

One Team, Hellenen Go!

Coach Valts

BCH U16-2 vs TSV Grünwald

 

“When you arise in the morning, think of what a precious privilege it is to be alive – to breathe, to think, to enjoy, to love.” /Marcus Aurelius

 

And to play basketball. This is a thought that rarely comes into one’s head. What a privilege it is to wake up in the morning and be alive and well. Be able to train and play this magnificent sport – basketball. Truly a gift from gods. So is Coaching.

So I woke up at last Saturday’s morning after one hour of healthy sleep (was working night shift). A little bit exhausted.  Originally Sunny wanted to deal with this game today as she coached the guys on my absence last time we met TSV Grünwald. She wanted to do better as first time. Unfortunately, she had her hands full so it was all on me. Instead of chilling on the bench and being mere observer – today was full get in and get banging day for me. As Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson says: Bring it on.

Very important game for the young ones. After struggling with the Round 1 where we got only two wins and landed on place 9 out of 10 Teams – we started Round 2 today by meeting the 10th place on our first game. I knew that this was the game that would set the mood for the whole Round 2 and win won’t come easy.

I knew the Coach of the Grünwald, we made our D-License together last Summer, August of 2017. A good Coach who knew his game and had a Team that was very able to give us hard time. I still trusted what Sunny had told me from the first time our young ones met them and I also trusted in my preparations with the Team on pratice floor. Our condition had gotten better so was our offense. I trusted my guys to do good ball control in defense and to be able to score in offense.

Game time.

 

First Quarter

Prior to game I noticed that Grünwald had some height advantage. One of the guys could almost freakin’ dunk! That player had to be controlled and handled extra. Also I had a flair that on of their Playmaker’s could be a problem – if he managed to set-up game and play on big guy, we had a problem. Also he seemed very good on his feet, fast. He had to be exhausted.

My game plan from minute one was to take Playmaker on full court defense to exhaust him and pressure the other team to change Playmakers more frequently. Second point was to actively change defense on the Big guy. If he was to get the ball on post or near it, he had to be doubled by small guy on outside and helpside had to be ready on the weakside if he decided to drive basline/middle.

First five minutes our defense was in good control and opponents didn’t score. After that they got some freethrows and we continued our defense strong till minute nine. Then number 12 blasted three-pointer and it shook my guys. Important loss of focus abled opponents to score two more easy baskets in minute ten and we finished First quarter with -1, 8 to 7 for Grünwald.

Second Quarter

Second quarter started better for opponents who made couple more baskets as we did. I didn’t sweat it as I still had two timeouts for this half-time. Around minute 14 our defensive work brought some fruits and we broke it even 14 to 14. Opponent Coach wasn’t happy about loss of lead and took time out to slow us down. After that we continued our effort in defense – it payed out in couple more baskets. I felt that our position was good and used my timeouts in minutes 18 and 20 to try out some strategic plays in offense. It was important to develop understanding of Coaching board and comprehending play small amount of time. It worked well and we scored another basket at the end. By winning this quarter with 13 to 9 we managed to go in half-time with 3 point lead, 20 to 17 for Hellboys.

Third Quarter

Half-time discussion went well for both teams and start of third quarter was equal, couple points and not so big action. We opened more at the end of minute 24 what made opposing team’s Coach to take another timeout. It worked more for us than them and we scored six good baskets and came in lead with 30 to 19. After that game got more action and both teams had scoring opportunities, though we made their opportunieties in free-throws and spared two more points. Third went down 14 to 8 for us, 34 to 25 into the fourth.

Fourth Quarter

We sticked to our strategy in fourth quarter also and made their offense hard by making our defense dense. It worked, but we missed some scoring opportunities in offense and didn’t make some freethrows. Overall fourth quarter was average in scoring as we broke even with 7 to 7. We won the game with 41 to 32 and got a win after a very long time.


Summary

As I awaited, Grünwald put up a good fight. Thanks to our efforts and ball control in Defense we were able to defeat them for the second time. What I liked the most was that team had gained increased Team Spirit which was now more present than in previous games in Round 1. It made them play better in offense and work as one in defense which will be crucial in upcoming games. Change has started and now I have to water it and let it grow. I am very positive that if we keep up the good work as in this game – we will play some good basketball also in upcoming games and hopefully get some more wins! Main factor – keep training hard, keep growing.

Coach Valts

 

 

“The Art of Persistance” or preparation for Round 2

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There are times when you do your best and yet end up losing anyway. This can become a very frustrating experience if faced for a longer period of time. If I did not know better – I would have given up long time ago, but that much I have learned: if you keep practicing withing your best conscientiousness and keep making good, quality decisions – one will eventually succeed.

Recently I had a conversation with a Head Coach of BC Hellenen first man’s team. He beautifully pointed out that as likely winning and success becomes a habit over time, so does losing and failing. This is just a thought I needed. Powerful insight of a Coach with many years of experience behind him. Advice I can trust. Now, I have been poundering on this thought for over a week now. I really want to do my best on teaching and training my Youth Team, therefore I seek for answers like this one. For ideas, thoughts and methodics. After meditating upon this thought and drawing parallels to my Youth Team, I decided it is time to read my favorite book again. “The Art of War” by Sun Tzu. Truths and lessons presented in this book have helped me in past and I hoped they would also help me now. It did.

“In ancient days warriors made themselves unbeatable by constant practice. Knowing they could never become invincible, their efforts enabled them to see the vulnerability of intended victims. They did not think in terms of beating the enemy by overwhelming him with boastful actions, but rather, they saw the reality of extending their skills through the enemy, which they acknowledged was the same thing as physical combat. They were also aware of their own limitations.

They constantly practiced, knowing there was no other way they could make the enemy vulnerable. The enemy had to do that himself. Because a warlord knew how to win does not mean that he did – but he did know that the enemy had the same attitudes and would be seeking the same results. Regardless, he continued to practice until he became the very object he was seeking and, in so doing, learned that if invincibility exists at all it lies in the attitude of attack – offensive or defensive.”

Sun Tzu “The Art of War”, Book Four “How to think of War”

After I showed these lines to my good friend Sid, he just went: ” The kids should be reciting this next practice.” Agreed, these words are a key to powerful mindset. Proper mental strength –  mentality of ancient warriors.

Nowadays we tend to forget about these physical things, it is all about mind now (or either one of them), but you see – it all goes hand in hand. Balance. I have always thought that kids should be prepared in more than one art of sports. Why? It creates diversity in their minds and abilites. One understands things from other perspectives and can combine this knowledge to better him/her-self. For example, I learned a lot more about myself of doing MMA fighting and boxing in a year, than I ever did in ten years of basketball. Then I used this knowledge and new learned abilities in basketball environment and my game became much better than before. (And vice versa, skills learned in basketball also helped me in fighting sports, for example, in boxing with peripheral vision.) Fighting sports bring with them strong mentality and hard working culture. Very important factors. This is also what I teach to my Youth Team – hard work, mental strength and never giving up. Even if you lose – you keep going, there is no other option. Wisdom of ancients.

Let us return to previous thought – losing becomes a habit. Bad layup becomes a habit. Bad jump shot, bad throw, wrong finger movement. Sometimes you do your best, but your technique is wrong or lacking. Then one must go one step back at a time and find out which part of all it is that needs to be corrected. Only then the bad habit can be broken and new one implemented. You see, you just can’t get rid of a bad habit without putting something in it’s place! If you break it, then a new one must takes it’s place. Then get the new habit drilled over and over and over and over and over again. Though, as we all know – habits are not easily broken. It requires much more work and dedication to break a habit and implement a new one than just starting out and learning the right one to begin with.

So for me it is clear now – we have a bad habit of losing. That is a problem and every problem has a solution. This one has a quite simple one – break the bad habit and implement a new, better one instead. Habit of winning and success. It will take some time and struggle, some dedication and will to break oneself. There is only one thing I am afraid about – that not everyone will be able to do it. That is life. Also an understanding of ancients.

Preparation. We had a good one, but it needs to be changed to even better one. It has to be better than enemies (opponents). Enemy has the same attitudes and are seeking the same results as we are. The only way we can overcome our opponents is to train better than them and understand the game in ways they cannot. This is how we gain advantage. Constant, hard practice. One cannot train soft and fight hard, one cannot be inconsistent and await victory over consistent enemies. Consistency must be number one rule, without it – we fail and fall into the pit of failure and losses. With it we rise up to fight our enemies in the same level or above and deliver our best abilities. This is the truth that Aristotle expressed long time ago:

“Excellence is an art won by training and habituation. We do not act rightly because we have virtue or excellence, but we rather have those because we have acted rightly. We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit.”

This far it is clear – practice constantly (and qualitative) and break the bad habits. What else do we need? Confidence. Very, very important. As John Maxwell put it:

“It’s not difficulties that defeat us, it’s lack of confidence.”

This sentence beautifully correlates with thought expressed by Henry Ford:

“Whether you think you can or think you can’t, you’re right.”

This is another thing that needs to be done more carefully. Get them shot of confidence. Now, as far as I understand it – this is more a thing of leadership, that is – me as a Coach. First of all, I myself must be confident that our training regimen (constant practices) are preparing us properly against upcoming enemies and battles. I must be confident in my strategies and knowing the enemy. And that I am, and that I will. If a Leader has confidence in himself then his troops (Team) will have confidence in themselves. This is the way of Heaven. Universal Law.

This is what is coming up. Many things has been done, many thoughts has been clarified, ideas understood,  strategies made. Still some of the stuff needs a little polish up on top before Round 2, but I am pretty happy how things are going. We ended Round 1 positively on practice floor, now let’s keep it going in Round 2 and get back on track.

One Team, Hellenen Go

 

Coach Valts

BCH U16-2 against TSV OH Deisenhofen

 

“If you can’t solve a problem, then there is an easier problem that you can solve: find it.”  /George Polya

At this point I call this being a little bit stuck. There are things you just can’t riddle and sometimes all there is left is to simplify the whole operation. I refuse to believe that there is yet another team that is purely better than us. I believe, no – I know that this team is capeable to play in this league and compete, there is just something off. There is something that needs solving and it seems that those are some very basic things.

Last week we met Deisenhofen at our home. Our defense at Hellenendome went down after four quarters when we capitulated to guests 28 to 67.

First Quarter

Guests had pretty tall roster. It will be very hard to use little guys because that would put us in disadvantage in Defense. Still, they had to be played and my big guys on field had to take the responibility in Defense to help at penetration from outside by playing helpside and boxing out properly.

We started out and we hold up pretty good till minute 5 losing just by 4 points. Then mistakes started to happen. Time-out Hellenen. Unfortunately, that did more bad than good and opponents loaded 6 points till minute 7. After that – our defense went to ground and they went on rampage. Dive after dive and finding that hole in Defense – they kept putting ball in. We struggled in our Offense as against taller guys it was hard to penetrate and our shots were not finding their way into the basket. Losing 8 points with no answer we were going down at first quarter badly. Also mindset started to wander and took focus with it. I knew I will need another time out at second quarter and opponent Coach was smart enough not to take one as his Team was crushing us down. At minute 9 some guys managed to go through and get fouled on shot attempt and made freethrows, but that didn’t save us from going down in first with 10 to 26. Minus 16 – hard to deal with.

Second Quarter

They came crashing down and made fast 10 points leaving us at 10 to 36. Enough to demotivate any team. Time-out Hellenen on minute 13. Come on boys, let’s do some Defense at least. Fast forward, opponents scored only 14 points this quarter and we managed to keep them down 20 for the rest of two also. Offense – 3 points for us. We had nothing to answer with. We went in half-time break with 13 to 40.

Third Quarter

This was the same as second point wise. Our Offense tried to penetrate opponents, take them from afar with shots, but ball always find it’s way out of the rim… or around it. Sometimes there are just these days… To be honest – Defense was okay. Against taller team we managed to close middle to penetration and control the sides. Opponents scored mostly due to our inability to properly and timely box out and take defensive rebounds. This must be fixed for next game. Third went down by scoring 5 and letting in 15. 18 to 55 after third quarter.

Fourth Quarter

Well, I think anyone understood what’s the outcome of this ramble at Hellenendome this time. Still we had to learn from this game and keep going in order to do so. We ended fourth by scoring 10 and letting in just 12 points. Still very dissapointing loss again as I know we can do much, much better. Hellenen went down with 28 to 67. Thanks Deisenhofen for the game and lessons.


After brainstorming through this game and taking in some Feedback I drew some conclusions. It was now clear visible that there must be some important changes. I have been too soft on this. It’s time to simplify and teach some important lessons. You can have a one bad day, but if it happens multiple times – it’s time to find the problem and get rid of it. Observation seems right – it’s in the head, I think I am just wrong about the depth of it… it’s much simpler as I have imagined.

There is Christmas break coming. It’s time to go through everything and develop some new foundations for the round two. Await us. We’re coming for Round 2.

Coach Valts

BCH U16-1 game against DJK SB München

“The strength of the team is each individual member. The strength of each member is the team.” /Phil Jackson

 

This weekend I also got a chance to coach our U16-1 team while their Head Coach Sidney was absent. I have been following them from start of the season and was already familiar with some of the player from last season. Also co-Coach Sunny was there to help me as she has been with this roster from beginning of the season and knows the guys well. I never reject a good counsel.

The struggles of team were known to me (they were 0-5, almost all games lost in last seconds with minimal difference) and Head Coach gave me clear goals for the game. Develop the team spirit and encourage to play good, hard basketball. I knew what was going on and what had to be done – I had similar struggles in my team.

Before the game I prepared the Team for hard game by reminding them of good defense, a lot of running and hustling for every rebound and loose ball. Looked good. Off to game.

First Quarter

It is always hard to coach another team. Even if you’ve followed them and know some players it still is another coaches team. They have been put together in special way, they have developed a specific mentality and team spirit. Beginning was something that happens in a lot of teams – guys slept in. That’s something that happens with young guys – they can’t put themselves in focus from first second of the game. Offense was going okayish, I’d write it off due to being guests on another gym – always harder to score. Defense however had to be good, no excuses, but too many light baskets were let in due to bad focus and not properly closing out on distance shooters. Also rebounding was struggling as guys forgot” to box-out opponents. First quarter ended 27 to 11, Hellenen behind.

Second Quarter

After a short talk with the guys, they seemed to have woken up and starting to take control of the defensive situation. No more useless tries to steal the ball from dribble – defense switched to just controlling the man with the ball and directing it to sidelines and baseline. This approach confused opponents and let us keep our defense in check – getting some balls and making some points. Second quarter went to defensive end and Hellenen ended up with 14 to 8 win in this quarter. Great result driving down from 27 to 8! It allowed us to go into Half-time break with just -10, 35 to 25.

Third Quarter

Half-time break allowed opponents to figure out the confusion and make their home atmosphere work for them. Still, ball control in defense was working very good and baskets were lost now only due to new pick and roll strategy from opposing team. Their best players exploited our confusion now and got some quick baskets doing just that. In the end of quarter guys managed to take it under control, but oh boy – offense started to struggle. This quarter also went down for us losing it with 18 to 15. Only -3 thanks to good job in defense. -13, 53 to 40 off to fourth quarter.

Fourth Quarter

Quarter started good – defense was still controlling ball really good, guys were communicating and switching better, that made it hard for opponents to make easy baskets and they had to struggle for every point in the start of fourth quarter. We needed points. This fact turned something in young ones heads and players started to get out of control in offensive. Too individual, rushed shots, losing nerves. This brought doom over the offensive game and while defense was still going good – lack of intelligent and rushed offense opened borders for some easy baskets for opponents. They gladly took the opportunity to keep the lead. Fourth quarter also lost with -1, 16 to 15 and game went down -14 for Hellenen, 69 to 55.

———————-

Overall good team with good fighting spirit and strong, focused defense. Faults lie as for many others in ability to be focused from second one. It leaves team in disadvantage and it’s harder to find the pace afterwards. Once this problem is solved – wins will start happening instantly! Also it would also help fix mentality of some players that lost their cool in last quarter thinking that they can fix the game 1 versus 5. It doesn’t work that way. It takes individuals to make up the team and it takes the team to put the ball inside basket and defend your zone from opponents on the other end. Everyone must keep himself in check and sacrifice his ego for the team. In return team will grow stronger and will be able to accent everyone individually for their skills. Doesn’t matter  if as scorer, play maker, rebounder, defense hustler or fast break runner. You give yourself for the team and team will give back. Keep the spirit strong. Keep hustling. Wins are just around the corner.

Coach Valts

BCH U16-2 game against Altenerding

 

“The fear of finding oneself alone – that is what they suffer from – and so they don’t find themselves at all.” /Andre Gide

Lost 51-57. We did win 2 out of 4 quarters which is a positive change comparing to previous games. Slowly, but steady we’re getting to know each other and work together as a team. Some of the guys still has individual troubles – it seems they don’t trust themselves. Still fighting with their inner-self over the confidence. Game of basketball (as many other sports) directly reflects this – if you’re not sure, if you don’t trust yourself then you suck out at the game. The more you suck out, the more depressed about it you become. Now, there are some guys who picked up the fierceness of combat and ability to lead, to trust teammates. They’re slowly changing the micro-climate within the team. My hope is that this change will influence everybody and till we hit middle of the season (approaching fast) we will have a mentally strong team who trust their learned skills in practices and will be able to hit back on teams we lost to in next round.

Next round is what I am going for.

First Quarter

Again inability to focus on the game from the start. Crucial mistakes were made and points which could’ve been spared. This also applies to confidence and mindset. Mental stability and capability to start strong from second one. We lost first quarter 17 to 8. A minus 11, but we could work around it if we picked up focus and managed to stop their number 9 (top-scorer in the league, avg 36pts) from diving and getting easy baskets. Also number 7 was fast and causing us trouble with his rebounding abilities. In first quarter team slept in defense way too much.

Second Quarter

Now, this quarter was better. Numbers 9 and 7 were dominating for opponents, but we managed to hold them in check and they got confused. We managed to use it in our advantage and make points. Defense picked up and closed middle for number 9 to dive. Some easy baskets missed in offense, which could’ve helped us to break the game, but can’t wish for everything in one go. We won this quarter with 16 to 9 and went in half-time break with just -2, 24-26. This was something we could keep working with!

Third Quarter

Mistakes started to happen again. Stupid mistakes. It was like someone turned the brains off for the guys. Not boxing out and letting opponents to stay in our zone for rebounds, lame passes which caused turnovers for easy baskets and lost points, lost focus in defense and offense. Again – easy layups missed. Small, unnecessary mistakes leading to loss in this quarter 16 to 11. Might seem just 5 points, but we had some luck on our side. Minus 7 after third, 35-42.

Fourth Quarter

Little things matter. Despite picking the game up, many fouls were made and our luck was opponents didn’t made free-throws. Number 9 dominated for opponents and inability to stop him cost us the game. We won this quarter with 16 to 15, but lost the game 51 to 57. Minus 6. This could’ve been a win. Just a little more focus and decision making. Use of mind. We will go for next one! Win is near!

———————–

I must admit that it’s harder than I thought to get guys trust themselves and achieve focus. Our society wants everybody to be successful and doing something, achieving this and that. Our society also goes away from themselves as never before. We have so many distractions in our lives that we forget who makes the change – every individual together in a team. We got distractions on every corner to keep us busy, but we don’t find time to work with ourselves. To develop our natural abilities – seeds are given us in birth, put inside us, we just need to stop and find the time to grow them.What I see are kids who learn many things in their young lives and get educated , which is good, but I also see that they’re confused as they spend 8 hours learning literature and mathematics, but spend none in learning how to work with themselves. To be alone, meditate, get to know inner self and find confidence in what they’re doing. Working and sorting their minds. Focus is lost due to need to be doing something all the time. This reflects on the field. This is troubling for me as a Coach and a Human being. I will do my best to teach them the skill of focusing and being in the present moment. As should everyone else. Kids must not be afraid in finding themselves alone, focused, not stressing, otherwise they won’t find themselves at all and become just as everybody else. Everybody will be everybody, but nobody will be himself…

Coach Valts

 

 

 

 

 

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