Category: Motivation (Page 1 of 2)

BC Hellenen München u16-3m: Mid-Season

“I don’t measure a man’s success by how high he climbs but by how high he bounces when he hits bottom.”

General George S. Patton

This is a matter of mind. Team’s core players were the same guys battling mental blocks last year. This year – there is only hard work, hard games and pushing. Team of BC Hellenen München U16-3. Currently we are standing at Place 5 (Table HERE) out of eight teams with a W/L ratio of 3-3. Many of these games were very close ones, where we came out only with a couple of points lead. Very nerving games. Due to sickness and injuries there were also some games lost with giving away a big lead. Focus now is to keep the players healthy and keep out of injuries to have a good secound round next year.

Training hard and pushing the players mentally is paying off. One of my biggest goals this season was to leave the mental struggles we had last year and I have to say – Hellboys have grown mentally. They handle themselves better and because of that they also handle their (swings) games better. Players are trusting in each other and are working together. Even when the team is behind and losing, they don’t go down the path of self loathing anymore, instead they keep fighting. BIG DIFFERENCE in the pattern from the previous season. Taking pride in the game itself and not going down easily. Make the other team struggle every minute on the field. Though, how did we came that far? From battling with mentals blocks and being (pretty much) one of the last teams in the league to climbing the middle against stronger teams? Big part of it was winning the fight with inner self and developing great culture of the team.

This is something you achieve with Discipline and Leadership.

How do I handle those days when I’m just not “feeling it”?

Those days when I am tired or worn out or just sick of the grind…

What do I do on those days?

I GO ANYWAY. I GET IT DONE.

Even if I am just going through the motions –

I GO THROUGH THE MOTIONS.

“Discipline equals freedom” by Jocko Willink

Every training there are things we just do. Doesn’t matter how the day is going for us. Good or bad. Never changing things that makes us stronger. Warm up is a routine, bounce the ball against the board is a routine, run the lines and stairs is a routine, getting some pushups done is a routine. Doing stuff that makes us better over and over again. Every practice. Discipline of one-self and the team. There is nothing more beautiful than a team that is self-disciplined and growing together. Even if it is not the best team in the league, there is something magical happening in this team. They came from nothing and are going for something. A part of getting a team disciplined is to get it’s leadership in order. Coach has to be a leader from the start for the team to be able even to take off, but every good coach also understands that s/he must make the leadership circle bigger. Get leadership in the team, among the players themselves. That is what I wanted to achieve as a Coach for this season. It’s happening.


“I start with the premise that the function of leadership is to produce more leaders, not more followers.”

Ralph Nader

A simple concept that takes a long time to execute. As I made my choice to become a leader and help others I also knew that I want to produce way more leaders on my journey. So, as we all have learned – start now with what you got. I find that basketball is a great platform where to start and develop young leaders. Make them grow from inside, then in the team, then move them outside the team in the organization… Now, this is what is making U16-3. Discipline and leadership. As I set up the right leaders among the players – everything changed. The whole structure of the team and how it behaves. EVERYBODY started being more responsible and willing to do they part to get the team further. Discipline allowed the ball to get rolling and make the guys believe in themselves. This belief made them more courageous which led to gain the ability to be able to lead. Then, when you have someone willing to take the responsibility (response to the ability: are you able? [yes/no] if yes, what is your response to this ability?) and lead the team from within the ranks. This therefore allows to strengthen the discipline even more which then starts the cycle all over again. You get the picture.

Now, we have to go after it. I’ve started to teach and implement more concepts of the game and get players to do referee licences to understand the game better. We will keep training hard and prepare for upcoming second round to get some more wins and move up in the ranks. It would be good to finish up in Top 4 this year. If we get it right even Top 3 would be possible! This would create a solid foundation in this league and we would be able to go after the first place next season. We will see. For now this team has taken a solid path of development and growth. Full of struggle, which makes them only more able to succeed in the near future.

Coach Valts

ONE TEAM. HELLENEN GO.

BC Hellenen München u14w: Mid-Season

After u14 Hellgirls game against TSV Wasserburg on 8th of December, 2018.
Team defended Hellenendome with Endscore of 65 to 64.

People look for the shortcut. The hack. 
And if you came here looking for that: You won’t find it.
The shortcut is a lie. The hack doesn’t get you there.
[..]
There is only hard work, late nights, early mornings, practice, rehearsal, repetition, study, sweat, blood, toil, frustration and discipline.
THERE MUST BE DISCIPLINE.
[..]
What’s the hack? How do you become stronger, smarter, faster, healthier? How do you become better? How do you achieve true freedom?
There is only one way.
THE WAY OF DISCIPLINE.


“Discipline equals freedom” by Jocko Willink

Middle of the Season is here. u14 Hellgirls are standing strong on 3rd Place out of nine teams in Bezirksoberliga with W/L stand of 5/3. Out of three close games two were won by +1 and +2 accordingly, third one with +6. Losses were against good teams and two of those teams are above us filling the Top 2 of the League. The third one is about the same level as we and they had a better day. At the end of the day it all comes down of how good your preparations were and how did you hold your ground. For both we need more focus and more discipline.

I like this team a lot. Some of the players play also for my u16w Team in Kreisliga [You can read Mid-Season Report on that HERE as they will be coming up for the next season. It helps me to prepare them for what’s coming and allows me to get experience in higher league. Up until now Kreisliga were the highest Liga I had coached and now Bezirksoberliga adds some new and exciting experiences. Also it is a very interesting structure we have going on here as till now u14 Hellgirls were coached by Coach Sandy alone, but as of this season we are splitting the team and coaching on turns. Coach Sandy is still doing most of the heavy lifting on trainings and I take over whenever I can. The situation is also very unique in the Club as Sandy is also coaching u12 Hellgirls. This makes a two-coach overlay over three teams: Sandy covers u12w to u14w and I cover u14w to u16w, and I must say – it is working out very well! Sandy is a coach who focuses more on developing player’s skillset and technique, meanwhile I am more of a athletic abilities, endurence and discipline (including mental game) kind of guy. Technique is my grind, I must learn A LOT on this topic. Anyway, this splited focus allows us to develop the team nicely and allow the players to have a chance for at least three training sessions per week. Plus the players get the diversity of the coaches as Sandy now has also Rabia (Damen 1) as co-coach on the board to help with u12w-u14w Training sessions. We are growing strong.

As we find ourselves with u14 Hellgirls at a place three, we must give our best to stay there. As with all my teams at first I am putting our focus on building strong defensive game – individually and more importantly as team defense. Teaching small things that come together and can make a big difference. Communication, trusting in your teammates and helping them, taking responsibility for your own actions, giving everything on the field, staying disciplined and focused. And I push on the discipline. Why? Because from that derives everything else. If we achieve the mindset of discipline and the hard path then nothing can stop us. I already see the change happening – girls are pushing themselves more and achieving more. Teamwork is taking more important place, trust is growing among the players. “I got this ball stopped, now, I trust you to get my player covered instead.” It’s truly a beautiful thing to witness – development of a team. As they are learning to take trust in their teammates, they are also understanding that their teammates has the trust in them! A VERY important aspect of the team development as it will push their will to better themselves individually for the good of the team. If they got me, I must be ready to help them. That simple.


If you as a leader allow people to halfway do their jobs and don’t demand excellence as a prerequisite to keeping their job, you will create a culture of mediocrity. If you allow people to misbehave, underachieve, have a bad attitude, gossip, and generally avoid excellence, please don’t expect to attract and keep good talent. Please don’t expect to have an incredible culture.

Dave Ramsey in EntreLeadership

“There is only one thing I require from you, my young ladies! Only one thing! Your very best.” I said. This happened today in the Timeout against the TSV Jahn Freising. We had a small lead, but we started to struggle offensively and there was some hectic happening on the floor. As their coach I knew that they could do way better. We still managed to win the game. After the game parents asked me if I am satisfied with the results. But of course not! They laugh it off as they should. Keep it fun and easy going. Though, I can’t allow my players to learn mediocrity, perhaps, one of the reasons is that I’ve grown up in one myself – I can’t stand being “okayish”. Also this club as a organization doesn’t stand where it is because it went normal, mediocre way. No, there were some crazy decisions, there is striving for the excellence from within! We think differently, that’s why we have our culture as it is. The normal path is for others, not for us. So – no, I am not satisfied. Yes, we won and it is, of course, a good thing and should be celebrated! Third place on the list, not bad at all. That has nothing to do with the satisfaction of the performance, though. If it is not our best, it is simply not good enough. That’s one thing I can’t allow – getting sloppy and then getting away with it because we managed to complete the task somehow.  Just as good things become habits, so does the bad ones. I can’t allow our future to obtain a habit of mediocrity. These are smart girls and they understand, that’s why I like this team that much. Hellgirls – different kind of breed. Strive for excellence.

Without a goal, discipline is nothing but self-punishment.

Unknown

We are coming, await us. And please… be prepared! We like the hard fights. There is a goal, I can assure that. What is the goal? Well, you will have to wait, let me keep the cards to myself just for a bit longer. There are many things to be done in the upcoming round of this season. I can surely say that we want to stay at least in the upper Top 3 of Bezirksoberliga. My personal goal with this team would be to bring some more surprises to the table and make other teams sweat. Get some more good and exciting games and experiences in there. Have some fun and learn valuable lessons for life while doing that. Get better, get faster, get smarter. No, no… that came out wrong! BE! Be better, be faster, be smarter. How will we achieve our goals? There is only one way. The way of discipline.

Coach Valts

ONE TEAM. HELLENEN GO.

BC Hellenen München u16w: Mid-Season

IMG-20181209-WA0025

“Most of us aren’t defeated in one decisive battle. We are defeated one tiny, seemingly insignificant surrender at a time that chips away at who we should really be.”

– Jocko Willink

How can I help? This is the question that got me here. Well that and advice of my Coach from BC Herren 2. “You should get into coaching girls. Yours will grow up and you’ll need the ‘know how’ if she wants to do the sport.” About at the time came answer to my question – I could take on u16w girls team and help out at u14w. At this point I had been coaching only boys at the same age. This meant even bigger work load and time in the gym, but, man, I was curious and wanted to take the challenge.

Last year the u16w girls went to win the Kreisklasse without losses in an quite easy manner. This year they went one league up, which ended up to be a one step too small. Team is combined from u16w girls with some coming out of 14w to fill up the roster. As I overtook the team, our Spielleiterin Miriam and u12-14w coach Sandy pointed out that girls needed discipline and structure as they’ve been doing nothing else than winning easy in that little league. Roger that. Bring in the big guns from the day one.

Unfortunately I didn’t know myself what I will get done. I brought the discipline and hard trainings. That only made them stronger, some left because it was not as fun anymore or because their injuries/growth at the time could not keep up with the training pace. It happens. I don’t like complicated things, all I do is follow one simple idea:

“I don’t require much from you, but only one thing – your absolute best.”

Now, the problem with this is (and what I didn’t realize till now) that when you get a team that bring havoc upon it’s whole league – it’s hard to get them to develop themselves. They do it more for fun. Many have what we could call “natural abilty” for the sport (or sports in general). Intelligence also. But when everything comes easy, they get sloppy, they don’t want to push. What for? It’s too hard. Better stay at the little league and win every game with +30 and up. What the hell? Sadly there is no option to change the leagues once you have started the year… Next season. So, there need to be preparations! Starting with breaking the team.

This half a season they went 6 games, 6 wins. Demolishing the league with no mercy. When you do that there come dirty thoughts and bad attitude in your head – you start to think that you’re invincible. NO SIR, not your coach girls. We are in the wrong damn league! Winning all the time is not normal! IT IS NOT HEALTHY.

But how can it be? Out of ten Top-Scorers we currently got two. Not even in the Top 3. They sit at the places four (14 pt avg) and seven (11.2pt avg) respectively. This is without unleashing the true power of the team. I have been playing to develop the newer players for the next season coming up and some more unskilled players who need the game practice to sharpen their abilities. So we don’t particulary win in the offense. No, sir, we don’t – we D the hell up! Noone in this half of the season managed to drop more than 39 balls in our bucket. This is where the story starts with every team I get – Defense and Team Effort.

Everybody likes to score. They feel the adrenaline of the basketball going throught the hoop and get the pride looking at the scoresheet after the game. I like to fustrate opponents of not letting them score. I like to watch my team to develop in Defensive Machine and taking pride on running down the court. Taking pride in statistics not presented anywhere. Noone’s counting.

Stop the ball, push it sideline, push it baseline, double it, get the helpside in, defend the picks, switch the picks, slide, get the defensive rotation straight, box out, rebound, close out, hands up, move the legs, close the middle, close the penetration. That’s how we roll in here. Hard, fast, effective. Most of the teams got only one or two offensive techniques, three at the most and we know how to defend all of them. In past couple months girls have developed a team and individual techniques to stop the ball early and push it where we want the opponents to go. It’s a beauty to watch in the action. Now we can start to work on the offense and push it really hard.

Oh man. Up till now it has been like this: we get the ball, we do a fastbreak. Almost all the game long. Fast break basketball. At the beginning of the season the endurance of girls was pretty bad. We are running a lot, but we should be doing even more as it is not up to my standards. After three months I can feel that all that suicides and stairs running starts to add up. Breathing technique in-between allow them to bring their mind back in the game. Though, I knew that this is not the way to develop them. We were staling on our basketball education, all except defensively. So I had to come up with some action.

I decided to go insane in the last game on this half of the season. We played 35 minutes without doing a single lay-up and shooting exclusively outside the paint. Okay, a few of the shots were one step in, but the world isn’t perfect, is it? So this was a hard game. It was up to strong girls team from MTV Schwabing and game was tough. Just as we like it. They also had a leagues #1 top scorer in their lineup and there was some job to do in the defense. This worked like a charm. We barely won by sliping through in last quarter with end score 39-46 to us. We played at their gym and it was perfect what I had in mind. It was smaller. Way smaller. Maybe the smallest gym I’ve ever been into in my fifteen years of basketball. Three-Point line was almost at the middle line, there was less place around the paint, funnily enough one corner of the court was cut off with a wall. IT WAS A MESS. Just what the girls needed. No more bravura, no more calmness… I dare to say it all went to shit for a moment there. They had to get themselves together to return and hold the game at equal score. They played hard defense as always, but they were not able to get a reward for it all the time in the other side of the floor with fastbreaks. There was just no space and they were not allowed to do layups for most of the game! So they played defense for the sake of not getting beat. They had to start to think how to pass and make place around the paint in the offense in order to get some shot free – and believe me, opponents didn’t give them one free and easy centimeter of that floor. They wanted to win, they had the chance and they fought. This game was the start of the breakdown which will continue in the next half of the season after the holidays.

“If you can get through to doing things that you hate to do, on the other side is greatness.”

– David Goggins

–  “WHY ARE YOU LOSING?”

– “We can’t shoot coach!”

Yes, you can’t. Well, you can shoot when you are alone in the gym. You can’t shoot in a two times smaller field with constant pressure from all sides. It’s okay. Maybe noone ever pushed you to do it. Maybe someone let you think you’re good as you are. Sorry, not me. We need to talk. I will present you the reality, maybe you will even hate me. Fine. Somebody has to do it. There is nothing more dangerous in this world as words “good job” in the wrong time (“Whiplash” reference). It’s a hard reality to get checked in the face.

It might not be your fault, but it is your responsibility.

From now on we are doing shooting. We are doing exactly that what we are not good at. Anybody can go through meadows filled with nice flowers and butterflies in the day with warm sun shining and a light breeze to cool you down. We ain’t going there ladies. That’s the way of the weak and we are all, but weak. We are going to get nice and uncomfortable. Even if we can beat the league, we are going to beat it in crazy fasion. With doing what we suck at. Can’t shoot? You better believe we are shooting 95% of the game. Can’t pass properly? Roger that. We are going to play a game with just passing, no dribble. Can’t cut? We are going to do offense with only cutting and filling. Can’t make layups go throught with left hand? Some games with doing only left hand coming in! We are going to that dark place and face our weak side, then we are going to come back from there with many lessons. Nex time – we are going back in. Lessons for life, young ladies. Break it down, build it back up – stronger, better, more complete.

Let’s get back to the quote at the start of this post. Parents tell me – they are getting better, they are developing. Yes, of course, because before that they were getting worse by winning. What? Let me repeat – getting worse by winning. They got to the point where they can win and then they went on winning all the time, at the wrong league. And every game won made them lose themselves a little by little. Well, at least that’s how I see it. I see the intelligence, potential, skill, natural ability. What I fail to see is the hunger. They have been in the easy game for too long. Nobody to kick them in the butt. Confused?

It’s very dangerous.

“Everybody wants some magic pill – some life hack – that eliminates the need to do the work. But that does not exist.”

– Jocko Willink

It all leads to this. It’s a false reality. Me, I am in this to teach the youth. Basketball is a very good platform to do it. Recently my good friend reminded me of the fact what it is – that it’s a parallel world. You can do much in it, you can be a good player. Heck, if you’re lucky you can even spend half of your life playing the game. For most of us – it all ends, but we will always share the love for the game. What matters is – what lessons learned in this parallel world we will be able to apply into our real world? That’s why I am here. Teach the youth on this platform. A tough ride. Hate me now, thank me later.

Coach Valts

ONE TEAM. HELLENEN GO.

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

-And what happened?

– Life.

/My Blueberry Nights

Day 2

Beep-beep-beep. Should I smash it? Nah. Five more. Beep-beep. A’ight, let’s roll. Naked feet hit the ground. Morning to myself, everyone else is sleeping. Except some people outside. There is always someone awake before me in Klagenfurt. Norm. Take a sip of water. Two, three sips. Rule of the morning – get’s your system going. Time for shower and waking up the girls. Have never met no one at the showers, but some guys are walking from them. At least it looks like it.

Most of the youth is already up at the time I get back to the tents. Good. Not so much fuss. After some time we are ready to get some breakfast. Same as yesterday, but with some hot beverage it goes down. We are overall disappointed at the fact that it is only possible to get one “portion” (2-3 small pieces) of pancakes per person. They could just keep their bread rolls and make some more pancakes instead. Oh well.

Go down, get ready, take the bus. Boom – St. Ruprecht 1. We meet the freedom early at nine-thirty in the morning.

Game 3: HellGirls versus “Stuttgart Eagles” (USA)

This is the game that decides if Hellgirls go out of the group for quarters or will play for fifth place. We meet a team of eight people. Aggressive as are all USA teams I have seen here at Klagenfurt. Game will be tough and rough. Await no mercy. They come in clanging and banging from second one.

First Quarter

As awaited – pit bull game. On our every advance we get hands on us.  The problem is – refs don’t show particular interest in this kind of game. This indicates that this will be one of the “let them fight” games. Fair enough, our defense is clean enough, I am hoping to get them “fouled out” as they only have eight players. Get some out, others can’t be as aggressive anymore. I bring this idea to the team – keep going, go through hands and hope that refs will whistle at least half of them. Well, this could’ve worked only if this game format wasn’t in favor for foul game… Eight minutes running time with full five fouls per person. Most we got out of this was one with four and another one with three, then couple two’s and one’s. One have to experience something like this to be able to counter it. Sadly, my coaching career had been too short.

For first half it worked in our favor that not only we could not score (or even go through), but also our opponents didn’t do nothing. We managed to score one layup so achieving two points, Eagles dropped a three pointer on us so finishing first quarter with three points. HellGirls could’ve accumulated more points, but missed all four free-throws. As I wrote already – free throws turned out a massive weakness.

2 to 3 after the first for Eagles.

Second Quarter

Aggression continued also in second quarter, but HellGirls found some ways to get through and score some baskets. Sadly continued to miss free throws (three out of four missed for second quarter) and we couldn’t burn the difference as Eagles accumulated one basket more in second quarter. Luckily they weren’t shooting any good from the free-throw line today also and missed six out of six free-throws, that gave them just minimal advantage over us and we went in the half time with -2, 7 to 9 for Eagles.

Thirds Quarter

They wanted it and they wanted it bad. We wanted it, but our offensive “freestyle” abilities didn’t allow us to advance. This quarter went down with 0 to 6 for Eagles as the birds locked down the HellGirls. On top of that we got two of our players injured and unable to continue the game. That happened when we started to get hang of the game.

First went down our number 63 with nasty slip. She sat down on her left leg, but right one stayed stretched to outside, out of the game situation one of the opponents were also falling and landed on the knee. In the moment that happened hot wave went throughout my body. First thought, please no tears in the knee. Thanks to all basketball gods – it was alright, just a hit with a knee in the ground. No tears, nothing.

Second was a bad landing and semi-turned ankle for our number 72, classic. Though as I feared – I won’t be able to use her for the next game also as ankle was worse. Once you stretch it – you’re done for that day for sure till it heals up again.

Anyway, these injuries hit us pretty bad and we went behind with 7 to 15 for Eagles.

Fourth Quarter

That was pretty much it. As we could not foul out the opponents and use our advantage of more players in this game mode, everything added up. We were able to get four to four in this quarter, but not to get back those lost eight points. This game was something to remember in case meeting something like this in future. This game also showed our inability to attack aggressive defense properly. Girls have to get better dribbling and passing skills to be able more easily and with less stress to advance over the field. Make less mistakes in passing. Smarter positioning to open up defense for better penetration possibilities. Aaaand free-throws. As they say it – if you can’t win the game, you can learn from it. We went down with 11 to 19 with Stuttgart Eagles flying high to quarter finals. Still, this game showed many things that we must add to our arsenal to be able to compete next time or with other teams like this.

HellGirls now had to get ready for the game at 16:30 against Bad Aibling Fireballs. So we got some time to waste and went back to quarters to go watch some basketball/volleyball at Players Town and Pädag gyms, then get some food after for lunch and rest a bit before the upcoming game. We wouldn’t finish last, but we wanted to take the fifth place instead of sixth and we should be able to do it!

I will skip over this time as I could not describe what was happening at the games anyway. It was just spectacular. We once again loaded gyms with our kids and got really amazing atmosphere there. This is like taking pictures of the nature – like mountains. You can never capture that beauty and magnificence in a picture. Same way I won’t be able to describe this happening and feelings in them. More over – everyone has their own. Let’s just continue.

Game 4: HellGirls versus “Bad Aibling Fireballs” (DE)

This was a special game. One that, if not all, then most of the people would remember long after it was played. Game that reminds one team of hard earned victory and the other one of unforgivable rules and chance that slipped out of the finger tips despite giving your last efforts. Game that makes teams stronger. Game of basketball and as always – there is one winner and one loser.

First quarter

Despite the positive attitude we had by going in against Fireballs, my expectations lowered once I met and spoke with the coach before the game. He had it. He was in the craft for some time and he had to be respected to had done his homework and preparations. Instead of me. Even Latvian Men’s team is known for their adventurous playing style. That’s also something that had developed by HellGirls as mentioned before. “We just get offense.” Then there comes a time where you meet a prepared and disciplined team like this.

Fireballs started strong by strong penetration and receiving two shots two times in first two minutes. As used in women basketball, scores are usually pretty low in average game, so every point matters. They made three out of four shots and added an layup on top of it till minute three leading by five to nil. Our number 15 received some chance for free-throws, but missed both. They put up another bucket, HellGirls answered with their first two points. Basket for Fireballs, missed free-throws from HellGirls. Some back and forth.

HellGirls had some hard time getting over the field through full-court press. Despite all my trys to get them understand basics in countering it, it didn’t happen till the middle of third quarter. I sensed some lack in basketball jargon. Another thing to be worked on in pre-season. For now we had to suck up and learn, but learning means – getting shot at. HellGirls came off the field after the first with eight point deficit. 4 to 12 for Fireballs.

Second quarter

If we wanted to stay in the game we had to score and avoid easy points. If the girls from Bad Aibling wanted to score, we had to make their job difficult. Bad shots, push them out, slow their progression. At some extent it started to show in second quarter. Unfortunately for us, we got some fouls and opponents were good at shooting ball from free-throw line. There was a progress though, we managed to play six to six and start to get hang of countering their full-court press. 10 to 18 for Fireballs at half-time.

Third quarter

This is where the tables changed. Fighting spirit came back with full power and girls showed why we had to shorten the name from Hellenen to Hell. Giving up was no option. Work in defense was better than previous half and offense didn’t struggle anymore. They had grasped some of the countering technique against full-court man-to-man press and could advance down the field more easily. That meant also more buckets in the offense and with buckets comes confidence. Needless to say – this game I went for victory. That meant sitting the ones that did the job poorly or made mistakes. In normal season games you would never find something like this from my side, but I had the chance to get some things done here and see the reactions.

So, I went full competitive sport mode. This is also what we would see in the first teams of the club in the future. Oooh, here we had to work to do also. With winning a league previously, assuming – not even trying hard, came a price. No bench presence and no understanding of what it means. If you don’t play on the field, if you make mistakes, if your skill level today is not enough – you play from the bench. That’s competitive sport. You get your teammates going, you help them in defense, call to turn around, help to pass. When there is a break or timeout – you let them sit, get them water, towel – so they can focus on coaching. You high-five them coming down the field and encourage when going on. Yes, you are not on the field, but you are still here and you are in the team. Today isn’t your day, but it will never be if you don’t get that bench presence going. Now, this was a bit off, but had to be explained. Let’s see how many read these lines.

Competitive mode also meant to get on the field best possible combination of players to counter opponents. At third I got it quite right and almost got switches in order. Not perfect, but good enough to fight for the W. HellGirls won the third quarter with eleven to six and came down the field after third with 21 to 24 for Fireballs. Race was on.

Fourth quarter

“To win the big games you must get to the Free Throw line, and then you must make them.”

– Rick Majerus

There are two things that win games – lay-ups and free-throws. Well, we had the first one going for us. Up to this point the opponents had proven that they are better free-throw shooters than we are. So we made lay-ups. Up to minute seven HellGirls managed to gain the lead for the first time in the game. After good run in offense and strong defense we went up to 27 to 26. Then minute seven hit us. Free-throws. Opponents got two and made both going 27 to 28 for Fireballs. Then we received two short before minute eight. Both missed. I was hoping for at least one, to get it at zero, but oh well… Then the next goal was to get D settled in and get a lay-up to get plus one. Boom. Hand slipped from a HellGirl and Fireballs were on the free-throw line again. First one went in. 27 to 29 for Fireballs. To myself I thought – okay, we can get this done, get the ball, we got about half a minute left, get a lay-up, overtime. Swish, second one in. We stand 27 to 30 with three behind. That was the moment I knew that we had to get a three-pointer, there was no other option. Up to this point girls had understood how to counter full-court press and ball went in, went to the other side and they stood spread out. After a few seconds looking for wholes shot went up, but bounced against rim. A half-centimeter here or there. That’s the game. Then luck happened. Ball went out from the opponents. I had to take a quick timeout. About 4-5 seconds left as we had no visible game clock.

Battling the past three games and half of this game – I just hoped that girls will get it right. I assigned throw-in, two pick makers, trick player behind the three-point shooter. It seemed that they got the drawing. They delivered. That was already a small victory for me. Pick down, roll out to other side, pick up to free-throw, run, pass, shot pulled up. It looked amazing. Then my heart stopped on heartbeat. I fell on the ground to see through legs if my eyes weren’t just playing games. Whistle made everyone silent right after the three-point shot went in. Nothing but net.

Nah, I had seen it right.

As our number 63, assigned to take the last shot, came out of the pick and over the three point line – small field confusion kicked in. Now, as I already explained, fields were smaller. Meaning – three point line ran into the side line at the wing. Despite that there was another field about 60-70 centimeters apart. Now, what I failed to predict in my drawing was that maybe I had to put the shot more up not at the wing. She simply oversaw the lines because of the habit of regular sized field, where three pointer runs down to baseline. As she turned heels went over the side line of this small field. Shot made, didn’t count. With three seconds left and a mild after shock – they failed to foul and we went down with 27 to 30 for Fireballs. Hurts. That’s basketball.

Thanks to this game HellGirls, under my coaching, now have a set play for baseline throw-in called “Over the Line”.

Outro

Well, that’s it folks. Then there was another fun evening with everyone at Players Town, next day early games, rushing to get everything packed and the way home. I won’t write here anymore about all the great fun we had there playing, watching, cheering and just enjoying the life. Some things have to be told not written. Remembered and shared at the dinner tables. Because nothing brings the good moments back as the voices of the tellers who were there and experienced all of this wonderful adventure called United World Games. Best memories are saved in the heart.

Coach Valts

ONE TEAM, HELLENEN GO!

PART ONE HERE

PART TWO HERE

“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 game against Höhenkirchen 1

 

“To run fast and shoot fast doesn’t matter anything. Mind over everything.”

/Pēteris Višņēvics (Basketball Coach)

Another game down, another loss, another lesson learned. We went down with 60 to 34. Opponents had a strong roster and advantage of the home court. One big guy my size (for that age – quite impressive!) and a really good diver with some crazy arc shot from mid-distance.

Goals for this game were:

  • Keep the big guy in check to our best efforts as we had no one to match him in size.  He had been playing also last year in this age group and had skill advantage. The secondary goal was to get him fouled out of the game.
  • Keep the Diver in the check with full-court press the whole game. He’s top-scorer for opponents and his best one was 37 points per game, in another going 26. Tough job for the guys.
  • Get better in offense. I can say that defensively this team has been doing okay, but offense was struggling. Goal was to take more shots in mid-range and free, non-contested shots from three-point line.
  • Break the mental block in team to make them work more together and play harder, better basketball.

First Quarter

Team went in knowing that very tough job awaits. I had been telling them that two of opponents are very hard to deal with and if we take care of them – we have a chance for a good game. Full-court press on the Diver and practice not letting the big guy to post-up in the Zone. Also, if he manages to get the ball – we double him. Now, the quarter was struggle as always, at start guys slept in defense, offense not quite running, missing baskets on fast breaks. Team did a little bit worse than okayish and we ended up with 19 to 8, 11 points down. Nothing big, I awaited to get kicked in the knee at first quarter because of their experienced big guy and the Diver. Still, bench presence was good, motivation okay and guys fought well.

Second Quarter

Now this quarter went to shit. 13 to 4 loss for us in this quarter. (Luckily for us – opponents also missed shots and some Freethrows) Offense was struggling a lot, shots didn’t go in – which wouldn’t be a problem if guys wouldn’t get mental block again. They made bad decisions, bad passes – no one wanted to take responsibility and initiative. DUe to that – those who did, didn’t get any help from others. Bench went silent, defense started to make mistakes, attention went down. Guys started to think there’s nothing to do. First-half ended with 32 to 12. The score won’t be so disappointing if there was a fight and we Team would just miss buckets, but the fight wasn’t there. Mental block.

Half-Time Break

There was only one thing to do – take the team to lockers and give them reality check. Ask some questions and make them answer for themselves. What are we doing here? Do we drive all this distance just to mess up again? Do we want to play like kids or like young men? Fight like individuals who can’t take responsibility for their actions or take it, make it matter and work together as a team? Trust each other and help each other in defense – because that is what men do. That is how men play basketball.

Now, this turned some gears in their heads. We went out, warmed up for second-half and went in the game.

Third quarter

The team I wanted to see. Young men, not kids anymore. It took the realization that it’s up to them to choose – fight or not. Guys started to fight as a Team. Took individual responsibility, made better decisions, fought in defense alone and together. Helping, talking! Communicating! Now this is was some good basketball. Because of the good defense also offense did better – more penetration to basket, more fakes which lead to more fouls from opponents and some Freethrows. Sadly enough distance shots were still missing and without them we couldn’t pull over – lost third quarter with 11 to 8. Minus 3, not 11, not 9. Three. Mental block had been lifted.

Fourth quarter

Now, one thing is to fight knowing that you can win, but I think most of the guys realized that this game for us was as good as dead – we woke up too late. But this was the new team, the team who had realized that fighting now is more important than the score at the end. So they learned and applied this new knowledge. They fought. Worked on given goals. Top-scorer was in check, made some points, but was far from scoring over 30 or even 25 this game. He checked out with 17 points. Now, some of them were over defense and pretty lucky. I consider that  guys did pretty neat job keeping him in check. Talking about the big guy – he checked out with 20 points what doesn’t surprise me as he had big advantage over our physical abilities. Sorry, we checked him out! After 39 minutes we got him fouled out. Too late, yes, I know, but goal accomplished! 2 fouls happened in 3rd quarter and 2 in 4th. If we had the mentality of second half – I am sure he would be out till half-time and we would take the game. This time we ended up with 17 to 14 loss on fourth. Also just minus 3!

End game 60 to 34 due to bad show on first half.

Now, despite the loss – team learned a lot, did improve and at the end accomplished all goals I had set and ordered:

  • Guys did hard job the whole game to keep the big guy on check! No issues there, very good job. And he got fouled out also! Doesn’t matter that it was 39th minute. Goal accomplished.
  • Second tough job – done. Had to change guys frequently and this job checked their stamina. Whole time when he was on field – full-court press and deny. There were some holes now and then, but barely noticeable and most of them due to the reason that defender had to help a teammate on stopping another opponent player form diving. Goal accomplished.
  • All right, first-half wasn’t better, but second was! More jump shots taken, more three-point shots taken which resulted in more offensive rebounds and more points. Comparing to previous games – great achievement in second half. More confidence individually and as a team. More passes, more teamwork. Goal accomplished.
  • We go the mental block after first half and lifted it in second. Didn’t happen in previous games. Will to fight was there, higher focus and in second half there was no recrements left from this mental illness. Goal accomplished.

Now it is important to keep this attitude in the Team. This was first (very) important step in life education of these young men. Make a decision, take the responsibility, work as a team, help the team, help your brothers of basketball. Do your work as individual to get team going and get the work done as a team. Transformation. Mind over everything.

My job now is to strengthen these principles in practices and make them work with the first second of the next game. I have a good feeling about this.

Coach Valts

Compete with yourself

Today one of my players sent me an observation of himself. He has observed that there are more athletic players at his age than he is. They seem to have played basketball longer than him. Bare in mind that this is U16 player. Now, while it is good to observe yourself and know where you stand in the scheme of things, I think it is important not to look at other abilities in self-destructing way. You can’t beat the others. There always will be someone more athletic, faster, bigger, better, smaller (also this counts!), stronger, more experienced, more intelligent.

One side

Now, if we acknowledge that there will always be someone better we can start to do what we have to do – work with oneself. You can’t beat the other person if you don’t beat yourself first. This is the practice of the greats, this is what all the great guys has done and that is the reason why they were the best. The only competition for them was themselves. That’s right. Only person you have to compete in the quest of life is yourself. Not your brother, not your sister, not your mama, not your dada, not your annoying, perfect cousin Jess (no offense to Jess), not your best friend, not that random athletic guy at the opposing team. No, not them – you, you have to compete with yourself.

This is the secret. This is all there is – be better today than you were yesterday. One-half a second faster, one push-up better, know one word more, read one more page. Even if it is a little bit – be better. Learn something new, train a bit more, help someone you know, help someone you don’t know. Be a better version of yourself. Others doesn’t matter. Your action does. Your attitude and your work.

The other side

My daughter is at the point where she is slowly learning to crawl. If you are a parent or oldest sibling in family, you will know that every kid does it at his own time. Of course we can do some things that help them to get hang of it faster, but still – every kid does it at a different time. Now, this observation brings me back to the idea what I read in one of the Zen stories. Nature has it’s own pace. You can’t really ask a tree when it will be grown. The same kind of tree will grow differently, or by moving it over continents – it might not grow at all. That is the nature of a tree. Of a living being. Also – it can be observed between other kinds of plants and also we humans have natural pace build into us. Kids start to roll, crawl or walk whenever they are ready and able to carry out this action.

“You are a function of what the whole universe is doing in the same way that a wave is a function on of what the whole ocean is doing.” /Alan Watts

There is this thought of Alan Watts that we are “it”. There is no point in seeking around us (outside of ourselves), we have to seek within and the more you look, the more you understand that there is nothing in, because you are “it”. You are the Cosmos itself. Everything else is in relation to you and you are in relation to everything else. You are your mind and that is everything else. So, there is no point in looking at others and saying they are better or worse than you are. The only place to look and improve is yourself. That is why improving yourself you will also improve everything around you. This is one of the Universal Laws of Life. Pace of Nature itself.

Valts R.

BCH U16-2 game against Haar 2

 

Mental struggle continues. After our first game against Ottobrunn it seemed as good Season start for my boys, but unfortunately at second game in Holzkirchen Team got mental block. Since then we are struggling against every other team that comes before us. Mentally. Also in this game where struggled the whole game and then broke down in last six minutes because of the mental issues. Lost 34 to 42.

We managed to achieve a goal as a Team to play good defense. It still isn’t perfect or even very good defense, but it is good defense. Good defense is good enough for now. It will develop over time. At least team has no mental blocks there, only thing to do defensively is to keep working on communication, out-boxing and foot work. I am happy to say that my young sirs understood the message from the team defense and now it is question of time and effort.

Offense however… is not so good. Part of it might be that I put a bigger emphasis on defense at the beginning of season. Since the game with Holzkirchen I’ve been putting emphasis on offense which requires a different kind of mental game as defense does. While in defense the players has no problem taking on contact and closing the players – in offense team is somehow afraid on taking the contact. I have to find a way to make this work. Willingness to do lay-ups and plays without being afraid from contact coming.

This refers also to 50-50 balls. Because of the fear from contact players also don’t go for loose balls (which are called 50-50 balls because of the same chance anyone getting it – opponent or yourself). This is a big problem as there are many situations per game where the ball is for the grabs and the opponents get it just because they want it a little bit more. This transfers also directly to rebounding or any type of fight for the ball – after first step of aggression, that is – jumping and touching the ball, players stop and don’t go for the second, third or whatever step to SECURE the ball! This is mental thing, this has to be drilled mentally not to stop on spot after first step, but do whatever is necessary to secure the ball and start our possession.

Now, these are the observations I have. It is very important to act on this mental game as it can’t just be fixed with more drills or more running or whatever. It is also important to act upon them as it reflects the whole being of a young man. This mental fear can come or go into young man’s life and do a damage there. My goal here is to teach them to become mentally strong on the field and hope that they will be able also to transfer this skill of mental toughness into life. This is the vision.

Coach Valts

BCH U16-2, game against Holzkirchen

 

“Don’t be upset about the results you got with the work you didn’t do.” /Unknown

This pretty much sums up the game of today. We went in with confidence, too much of it and came out crushed. Focus had went to sleep, courage ran off and heart seemed to have stopped to beat. There was nothing in my knowledge I could’ve done to turn this around. That angers me. Also, as a Coach, my job now is to find a way, a solution to this problem we faced today and expel it from our dictionary. It can’t happen again. It will though, but at least we will be ready for it.

Complication of overconfidence and ignored rules of war.

I let them fly. The first game was good, why not? Let the boys have the confidence boost. I also unknowingly underestimated our next opponent. Their will to win. Now, from the perspective of “The Art of War”, I didn’t prepare for the War properly. I let my troops loose and it resulted of lost Focus and Discipline. If we were in the order, it would’ve been much closer game. Team was strong, but we could’ve done better for sure with more Focus and better Discipline.

The second thing is that Team lacked ‘Fierceness in Combat’. We lost it in fear. We lost it because Leadership (that’s me) failed.

“There must be no hesitancy in using any method to bring about the complete and utter destruction of the enemy. It is the only way to ensure victory of a lasting nature.

Fierceness is a natural state when troops see the wisdom of their leader. Correct tactics are required to ensure that any approach to the enemy will be consistent with victory. It is the perceptive warlord who prepares for any eventuality and accepts victory with a glad heart.” /The Art of War (S.F. Kaufman interpretation)

Now, this is the thing. Steady hand. Not just from the players, but also from the Coach. My hand today wasn’t steady. I lacked the knowledge and the wisdom to turn things around. I hadn’t planned for the particular eventuality which the game took. Leader had no answer when nothing we had learned worked and players lost courage. We hesitated to answer the opponents for too long. They over ruled us with their confidence and willingness to dominate. Once some of the players recovered and find the flame of fighting inside them, it was already too late. Enemy had grown too strong already.

The Future.

“If you want to walk in fields of green, you have to be willing to dig in the dirt.” /Unknown

We trained before. With a structure. Now it is time to re-structure and work harder. Today was about waking up – game must be taken at least one level higher as it was. You don’t continue as you did before and get better results. You embrace the defeat, find the solution and keep working harder, better and smarter. This is what awaits the BC Hellenen U16-2. Growth in mind and body.

Coach Valts

 

Just a tool. Or is it?

“Put down your phone, look at the skyline.” /M. Diaz

A true reminder. Everything happens in there – communication with family, friends and colleagues. E-Mails, WhatsApps, Facebooks, Instas. Games, texts, books and articles. Everything you can imagine. This is something I lived through once. A book I recently read reminded me of that. Well, that and my good friend and colleague Diaz. It’s not in there! Easy to forget! Not going back – the way is forward. It’s a change of direction if you may.

It’s just a tool! Made to connect us easier, communicate faster, get things done more efficiently. Be damned, it seems sometimes like this advancement in technology makes us more busy instead! Online 24/7, always rolling. Where is that extra free time?

Human nature needs brakes. Discipline. Otherwise it takes on everything World has to give. This is how I get lost. How many other get lost. Awakening – look at the skyline. Lost my roots with the self-consciousness. Being. This moment, observing things and writing about them. Creating. Not some bullshit creation – creating from observations. That’s what Murphy did when he wrote all those Laws and others wrote as well, all those Scholars, Masters, Scientists, Artists and Writers. They observed and to observe one must gain knowledge and be in the actual moment. Then create.

Put it down. Hit the brakes. Oh, yes. You’ll find the true meaning of things. Go to the most busiest place in middle of the day. Sit there for a hour and observe. Write it down. No phone, no online, nothing. Got it? Good! Now don’t sleep, carry it for whole day and go outside in the night and sit somewhere near Mother Nature. Find a lake, river, a tree will do! Now sit there for an hour and observe the night. Write it down. No phone, no online, nothing.

Go home. Look at what you wrote. Is the night really more peaceful than the day?

This is how this began. This is how this must continue. Stories of the Night.

~V.R.

 

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