COACH SPOTLIGHT - Luke Kemish, Dorset Storm

The NBL Weekend Takeover for 3/4 November will see Dorset Storm take the reins of the NBL Instagram story. 

We caught up with Storm Coach Luke Kemish of their takeover weekend, in our latest Coach Spotlight feature.



Name: Luke Kemish

Team: Dorset Storm - Under 16 Boys (South West Regional), Under 18 Men (South West Regional), plus a variety of teams at other levels from Under 12 through to Senior Men. 


What brought you into coaching?

It was two things really, I was always interested in coaching as a young player and along with there being a lack of coaches, I found myself with opportunities to take. I was also lucky enough to have some people that helped me to develop, and I quickly went through my Level 1, Level 2 and Level 3 coaching awards.


What were your original thoughts when you moved into coaching?

I quickly realised that coaching was more rewarding for me than playing. The ability to influence a group of people in a whole variety of ways was a challenge, but also something that is intrinsically motivating… there’s a certain buzz you get from helping others that keeps you going back for more.


What did you find most interesting to learn as a coach?

As a coach, I think I am constantly learning and developing my pedagogy. I have changed from being a pretty direct, ‘X & O's’, results-oriented, ‘my way or the highway’ coach who never shut up - to being much more player-centred coach. I’m often reminded of this when former players drop into a coaching session and comment that I’m not talking like I used to!

Over the past few seasons, handing over the reigns to players to evaluate a game and then plan a training session; it is sometimes uncomfortable, as you feel a little unnecessary. But in the long-term I believe the pay-off will be huge by allowing the players to take ownership.

I guess, in summary, finding out how to get the best out of each individual that you are coaching is the most interesting part for me as a coach.


What was the most rewarding part of your coaching journey so far?

Playing a part in players developing over their time in the school/club/regional programmes and witnessing them progress from Under 12 through to Seniors is always satisfying. 

Seeing players who are still playing the game long after leaving the club as a junior is always exciting too. For example, last season’s Dorset Basketball Association Play-off Final had 16 ex-Dorset Storm juniors playing across the two teams. It’s always fulfilling to see players who have been part of the club come back and visit. Hearing stories of what they have been up to, and generally catching up and wanting to find out how I or the club are doing is just really satisfying.


Which parts of coaching do you like the most?

I have been lucky enough to have many great experiences as a coach, from coaching Year 7's at school though to coaching in multiple Regional Development Tournaments with the South West Region. However, I don’t think it makes any difference what level I am coaching at; the thing I like the most is seeing players improve.


Where are you now? How are you using your coaching skills?

I am currently working with both the Dorset Storm Under 16 and Under 18 teams in the Jnr.NBL. I am actively involved with the Under 12's, as well as a host of other teams that train throughout the week - all the way up to the Senior Men. I also run the extra-curricular basketball club at St Edward’s School, where I teach.


What is your coaching niche and why did you choose it?

I’m not too sure how to answer this one, so I’m going to go with the ability to be adaptable and resourceful. During my time as a coach I have coached everything from players 8 years old through to Seniors, males and females, from people picking up a basketball for the first time to regional players who have gone on to represent their country.


What is your coaching vision for the next 2 years?

To continue to develop and improve as a coach, while also maintaining a focus on continuing to develop what we offer in Dorset. We have had pretty good success based on the milestones that we set ourselves, achieving many things ahead of schedule.  However, having relatively few qualified coaches is something that we are trying to tackle, which is just one of the key aspects we have identified in order to ensure that the basketball club is sustainable.


What is your favourite coaching question from athletes?

I find the question "What do I need to do to get better?" a rewarding question to get asked as it shows the player is buying in and has the drive and determination to improve - I always try and answer that question by throwing it straight back at the player.

I think the most thought-provoking questions come when people, both players and other coaches, are challenging something that is technical, tactical or theory-based such as, "Why do you use so much 3 on 3?" or "Why don’t you want us to put the ball on the floor and drive here?". These questions make me think deeper, and therefore improve me as a coach, as a self-evaluation kicks in and I make adjustments for the next time I teach that particular topic.


What advice do you have for those coaches currently in training?

I would urge young coaches to do several things, firstly, challenge the narratives that are still dominant much of the coaching that you see, not only across basketball, but in all sports. Also, do your research - find out what actually works. I definitely don’t coach the same way as I did when I started out, and I would like to think that I will coach differently in 10 years time to how I do know.

Be influenced by other coaches, but make sure you truly believe in all the things that you are doing. This also links in with: don’t try to be the same coach you had as a player. Be yourself and be better than they were!

Finally, stay positive - both with yourself and with your players.


What legacy would you like to leave behind you?

To have had a positive influence on the development of basketball players and leaving what was available in Dorset at a higher level than it was before we started.


You can follow Coach Kemish's progress this weekend when Dorset Storm takeover the NBL Instagram story!