Observations from Belgium Visit

Posted on Mar 02 2020

As part of a recent professional development visit to Europe, Basketball Australia’s Peter Lonergan spent time with the coaches and staff at the Elite Athletes Academy in Antwerp, Belgium. Here are some takeaways and observations from that visit.

Program ethos and approach –

  • Playing the “long game” – focus on long term athlete development through the journey rather than results driven
  • Holistic approach to athlete and staff development
  • Concept of “Kaizen” philosophy (Japanese word for “improvement”) – constant, small improvements across all aspects of the program
  • “Coaching should be one of the least egocentric environments” – Olivier Goeteluck
  • “CNP” – certified nice person – focus for people within the program

Teaching and development methods –

  • Focus on skill development through “Games Approach”
  • Use of small-sided games and advantage/disadvantage breakdowns for teams/players of all ages
  • “Practice starts as soon as the first player arrives” – Joerik Michiels
  • The coaches start working on individual skill development as soon as one player arrives, building as players arrive until the start of formal practice – time efficient and personal attention
  • Individual skill and concept development focus throughout – Under 14 to Under 18
  • Strong emphasis on developing creative skill – big focus on footwork, finishing skills and shooting
  • Style of play for competitive teams linked to development focus – teaching and playing out of concepts, rather than sets

Athletic development –

  • Led by Olivier Goetgeluck
  • Functional movement seen as a key element of player development, not a necessary “add on”
  • Wide variety of influences and adaptation of different approaches to athletic development and wellbeing
  • Strong martial arts and Asian influences to teaching functional movement to young players
  • Concept of “Fighting Monkey” approach – injury prevention through functional movement teaching
  • Strong links with the functional movement to the skill development – two areas work closely together and integrated across all levels of the program
  • Developing shooters – energy flow and linking to the kinetic chain
  • Use of “speed tools” – develop wrist and hand flexibility

Coach development –

  • Ethos of having “transformational coaches” in the program, not “transactional coaches”
  • Ongoing clinics and professional development for coaches
  • Conversation and engagement a high priority across all aspects of the program
  • Engagement and recruitment of leading development coaches to assist in education of program coaches, led by Alex Sarama

As part of the visit, Peter Lonergan presented a clinic on “Two Way Teaching in the Pick and Roll” and the notes can be found here.

EA coaches clinic – Belgium Wednesday Feb 26, 2020

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