The NBL Weekend Takeover for 27/28 October will see Folkestone Saints taking the reins of the NBL Instagram story.
We caught up with Saints' Coach Stuart Hunt (pictured left) ahead of their takeover weekend, for our latest Coach Spotlight feature.
Name: Stuart Hunt
Team: Folkestone Saints - Under 16 Boys (South II Regional)
What brought you into coaching?
As a player I was always interested in helping out team mates and helping them develop their game. Since being involved with teams with younger age groups I have been interested coaching and assisting coaches with the sessions. From then on I have wanted to continue passing on my knowledge and experience onto the younger players to help them develop and understand the game.
What were your original thoughts when you moved into coaching?
When I moved into coaching my original thoughts were to improve players abilities, to provide more experiences for players that I was unable to experience when playing myself. I also wanted to help the coaching by building up a club which now competes at both NBL and local levels for both male and female players.
What did you find most interesting to learn as a coach?
The most interesting thing I find to learn as a coach is to figure out different strategies from other coaches on how to turn games around; learning ways to change games around that start unsuccessfully. I also like learning about the mental side of the game and keeping players motivated and focused on both their goals and the goals of the team.
What was the most rewarding part of your coaching journey so far?
The most rewarding part of my coaching journey so far has got to be increasing the level of participation in basketball in the Shepway area. When I started my coaching journey seven years ago, our club had only been involved with local leagues - playing games once a month. Time has passed, and with the help of volunteers we now have three Jnr.NBL teams at different age groups, two junior local league teams at Under 10 and Under 12, along with an academy set up where players compete in the East Kent Men's League. We are also working with a huge number of primary and secondary schools in Shepway and the surrounding areas to provide children with opportunities to play and learn the game. We have also had links with Nepalese teams and have different projects set up with them to increase the level of their basketball. Alongside all of these projects, we have also now extended our senior NBL programme into Canterbury Christ Church University to give the players the opportunity at another level of basketball and more fixtures.
Which parts of coaching do you like the most?
I like watching video playback where I can analyse in-depth where our strengths and weaknesses are in both games and training sessions. I enjoy finding the weaknesses within our team and seeing the players improve on them before our next fixture. Another part I like is learning new drills that will help with teamwork and team spirit; I feel that the better our team chemistry is, the higher levels we can train and play at. I also like being an assistant coach in our senior games so I can pick up different ways of talking to different players and different in-game coaching styles.
Where are you now? How are you using your coaching skills?
I am now the Junior Basketball Development Officer within the club where I oversee all of the junior teams and their sessions. The club head coach and I organise all the trips we have abroad. to provide the opportunity for players to experience high levels of basketball across Europe and the USA.
Alongside running a junior programme and coaching the various teams, I am a PE Coordinator for a number of primary schools in Ashford, Kent where I use my skills to coach and teach different sports across the primary school level with participants aged between 5-11. I also set up and run the monthly basketball competitions for the local primary schools to compete in.
What is your coaching vision for the next 2 years?
I would love to make our club into a club which competes at all age groups, with both male and female competition. I would also like to have more players compete for the opportunity to represent the county, regional or national teams to progress their game further, but my main goal would be to have a team within our club make NBL playoffs for the first time in the club's history.
What is your favourite coaching question from athletes?
"What can I do to improve?" As a coach I love this question because it shows me that the athlete wants to improve and wants to step their game up to the next level.
Another question I love being asked is "Can I train with the seniors this week?" for me as a coach this makes me feel that my players want to step up to a more competitive, more physical and more mental challenge.
What advice do you have for those coaches currently in training?
Be energetic and pass on your passion of the game. Get to know players playing styles, strengths and weakness on the court before adjusting their game. Also get to know your players off the court, their interests, hobbies and more importantly their personalities; this will be a huge advantage when coaching them in the gym.
What legacy would you like to leave behind you?
To leave the club with teams and players that compete at every level possible, with enough volunteers and coaches to assist each other with running the club.
You can follow Coach Hunt's progress this weekend when the Folkestone Saints takeover the NBL Instagram story!