Former Medway Park Crusaders Head Coach, James Vear, continues with his blog from overseas (University of Dalhousie, Canada). Vear left the UK about four months ago, and will be regularly updating us with his experiences and life abroad. You can check all his previous blog entries here. Over to James:
Since my last blog post, we’ve had a very busy month with conference play getting underway. We have had a tough start to the season, and are finishing for Christmas with a 2 and 5 record. We have been a little bit inconsistent and have struggled to string 40 minutes of good basketball together.
The team is young with a lot of new faces, most of the team being freshman or sophomores. However, We’ve shown in our two wins that we can beat anyone in our conference and I’m confident the team will get better and more consistent the further into the season we go.
In this month’s blog I wanted to discuss some of the big differences I have seen basketball-wise here in Canada, compared to the UK:
Most of the games have been very physical with the majority of referees letting the teams play, which for me, is a real positive. Strength and conditioning is a big part of basketball here as well, something that over the last 10 yrs has become a huge part of the game.
Most teams if not all have strength and conditioning coaches and I think this is now a part of basketball that is vital for players getting to the next level. There are some great strength and conditioning coaches in the UK and some that are ex-players who do a great job in helping upcoming players, such as Duncan Ogilvie who works at the Barking Abbey Basketball Academy.
Slightly controversial topic here and something I’ve seen being an issue in England over the past few weeks based on some of the tweets from players and coaches in my stream. The standard of refereeing here I think is good, I find it’s consistent, and most of the referees are personable and happy to explain calls and speak to you.
I know that being a referee is an incredibly tough job, one I wouldn’t do, especially after doing a few games a long time ago. My brother, who lives in San Antonio and runs a basketball academy is also a referee, told me some interesting things regarding his development as a referee.
First of all he has to do a certain amount of hours before they can get paid; they also are assessed by a committee to identify talented referees who are then pushed on up the ladder to more challenging games. He also says that it is taken very seriously, being a very competitive job with referees often requesting game tape to evaluate their own performance in games.
I’m not saying this would work, or this isn’t something that is already taking place in the UK, but would be interested to see how referees are assessed. I do think it is an area that needs to be addressed in the UK because I have seen first-hand some games spoilt by poor refereeing (that’s not to say there aren’t some very good referees in the UK who do an amazing job).
Scouting upcoming opponents here is extremely important and vital to be successful. All of our conference games are uploaded to a central site so that all coaches can watch our opponents. I think this would be a great thing to do in the UK, though I am not sure you could get buy in from every team to video and upload every game.
I know from my experience coaching in England, I found it hard to get game tape of teams who are on opposite sides of the country. The only team I would see at games actively scouting would be the Reading Rockets, with Ben Fisher being the team’s lead scout. Learning how to scout teams properly and video editing has been a skill I have learnt here and something I think is invaluable to being successful at the top level.
I mentioned this in a previous blog entry, but there seems to be a lot more coaching resources and clinics available here. In the first 2 months of being in Canada I had already been to a couple of clinics and had received a bunch of coaching resources. In England I had been to 3 coaching clinics in 8 yrs.
I know that coaching clinics have been organised in England in the past but had to be cancelled because of poor numbers. When I come back to England, I would like to try and organise some clinics for all level of coaches. We have some great coaches in the UK and I think all coaches could benefit from events such as these.
These are some of the differences I have seen so far; I am not saying that everything here is perfect and I’m sure coaches and players from Canada would have their complaints about things happening basketball wise, but these are the differences I have seen that have really stuck out.
Over the next few weeks I will be busy organising an Offensive Skills Camp I am running for young kids in Halifax. We will also be preparing for our Xmas tournament called the Shoveller Tournament, where we will have some of the best teams in Canada participating. If you’re interested, all of the games will be streamed live here.
I’m looking forward to the challenge in the New Year and the team improving on their record. As always, feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @coachvear.