For this week's NBL takeover, Team Newcastle Knights will be taking over the NBL Instagram stories on Saturday 23 & Sunday 24 March.
We caught up with Knights Coach, Ian Hewitt ahead of their takeover weekend, in this week's Coach Spotlight.
Name: Ian Hewitt
Team: Team Newcastle Knights - NBL Division 1
What brought you into coaching?
It was purely by chance and luck. I was playing for East Durham Basketball Academy U18s with Bob Martin and Craig Lynch. I knew a few of the Women’s Durham University team and they had just lost their coach and they asked me to train them, it went well and built from there.
What were your original thoughts when you moved into coaching?
When I first started coaching I thought it was a tool to help me improve me as a player. I was still young and playing EBL for Durham Wildcats. I then became the player-coach at Durham University. I really enjoyed coaching and helping people improve and see their hard work be rewarded. At the time I was mainly focused on playing, it was when my daughter was born that I had to make the choice of coaching as I couldn’t continue to do both. At that point I was offered the job at Newcastle University.
What did you find most interesting to learn as a coach?
I had to learn how to become a leader, how to develop relationships and the big one for me was learning to channel my energy in a positive and constructive way. I really enjoy the X’s and O’s side of things but for me learning how to develop a system and style of play to promote your values really engaged me. I think you always notice elements of a coach’s personality based on how their team plays. I have enjoyed seeing how the game has changed and evolved, especially around sharing the ball and the emphasis on off ball movement. In D1 I have learnt a lot, I think the league has some really talented coaches.
What was the most rewarding part of your coaching journey so far?
I think seeing former players like Chuck Duru, Tayo Oyefusi and Jack Beresford move on to have great careers inside and outside of basketball. There are negatives to University NBL programmes in terms of fewer volunteers so smaller crowds etc., but the positives completely outweigh them. We give British players a chance to play in a good league and get an education whilst doing that.
What parts of coaching do you like the most?
I enjoy seeing players come together and help each other maximise their potential. Players normally have to overcome some mental and physical barriers to really do this and helping them identify these challenges and come through them helps to build confidence and skills outside of basketball.
Where are you now? How are you using your coaching skills?
I am the Head Coach at Newcastle University, coaching NBL Division 1 and BUCS Premiership. I also created a programme at Hartlepool 6th Form College which I have passed on to a good friend so I still coach that a bit too. I’d like to go back into the England programmes again when the time is right too.
What is your coaching niche and why did you choose it?
I’d say the importance of player movement then ball movement. We have always been a team that have had to over perform to move through the BUCS and NBL leagues as we haven’t had the finance or reputation to bring in the ‘high’ level players on a consistent basis, so team basketball took precedence.
What is your coaching vision for the next two years
I would like to stay in NBL Division 1, continue striving to be in the top 4 in the country for BUCS and then for me personally maybe take a step towards entering the national teams again if the situation is right.
What is your favourite coaching question from athletes?
“How’s it going Coach?”, when I am lucky I get asked that.
What advice do you have for those coaches currently in training?
If you want to find out how good you are put yourself in a situation where you have to solve a lot of problems. Play for as many years as you can before coaching.
What legacy would you like to leave behind you?
Former players who liked how I coach take some elements of that, make it better and help other people.
You can follow Ian's progress this weekend as Newcastle Knights takeover the NBL Instagram stories!