What brought you into coaching?
I started volunteering at school as a sports leader and helped out at primary school tournaments and events. My teachers then put me on a volunteering sports coach programme called ‘step into sports’ where I started coaching at my local basketball club Beccles Bombers, which is also where I played. I did over 200 hours in a year and loved it! From that I got offered a full time job straight out of sixth form as a sports coach in primary schools. At the same time, Ipswich Basketball Club were looking for assistant coaches so I helped out there too.
What were your original thoughts when you moved into coaching?
I really enjoyed it, I was travelling from Beccles to Ipswich three times a week which is a 2 hour round trip to assist Nick Drane with the U13 Tomcats at the time. I liked giving back but also learning about the game as I had never played at a high level or really been coached before. We had a great team that year and went on to win the National Championship and I thought, I want to do this professionally.
What did you find most interesting to learn as a coach?
I have had three mentors in my coaching career so far and I have learned so much from each of them, but they all have certain things I have taken away and used in my coaching. Nick Drane showed me how to teach the fundamentals and how to enjoy coaching but also how to be professional. My time with Alan Keane taught me about team culture and how important it is to get players to buy in whilst giving them a voice. Jesse Sazant exposed me to how best to push players top improve both physically and mentally and what it takes to run a basketball academy. I have always learnt best from watching and being with coaches in their setting.
What was the most rewarding part of your coaching journey so far?
The most rewarding part is seeing past players, whether they were from past club, regional or national teams that I have coached and having them come up and shake my hand and ask how I’m doing. It’s such a simple thing but it always makes my day when it happens.
Which parts of coaching do you like the most?
I love being on court with the guys, whether that’s in training or a game. I enjoy the atmosphere of a training session, the sound of basketballs bouncing, feet squeaking and players competing. I like pushing players out of their comfort zone to see them improve and achieve something, but also smiling and having fun along the way.
Where are you now? How are you using your coaching skills?
I am now at the Canterbury Basketball Academy, I’ve been here four years and it was announced last week that I am now the official head coach of the program and EABL team, which is very exciting for me. I hope I can use what I have learnt over the past couple of years here and with the national teams to continue the success we had on the court this season and keep developing the program.
What is your coaching niche and why did you choose it?
I think my niche is my passion and hard work. When I step on the court for a training session I give it everything in terms of focus and energy. Then off the court I work hard to keep developing, whether that’s watching video or reflecting on the session or planning, I am always thinking about what I can do next. I don’t think I have one of the best basketball minds, nor do I think I am one of the best coaches but I try and make up for this with my passion for coaching and the hard work I put in. I believe this has got me to where I am now.
What is your coaching vision for the next 2 years?
I hope to have success in the EABL on the court as well as maintain and develop the culture we have built here at Canterbury. I am unsure what is next with national teams, I hope to stay involved but at this moment I couldn’t say for sure.
What is your favourite coaching question from athletes?
I think any question that challenges me as a coach. It can be “Why didn’t I get picked?” to “Why did you say not to drive here?” Those questions make you have to really think and also make sure that you watch and focus on what is happening. I also look for feedback from my players, this is something that isn’t always easy to take but it defiantly makes you a better coach.
What advice do you have for those coaches currently in training?
Get out there and watch people coach their sessions and teams, see them in their environment, the culture they create. Watching videos and clinics online is good but coaching is about much more than that. It’s about the relationships, the atmosphere you set up for learning to happen and the standards you hold the players to. The best place to develop is being on the court either helping or sitting on the sideline watching. When I first started coaching I would drive all over the place to watch coaches coach.
What legacy would you like to leave behind you?
A legacy of someone who worked hard and was passionate about coaching his teams and making people better.