By Duncan Ritchie
10-February-2022 on Users11 minute read
There’s little doubt that the Spanish basketball team is going through an extended golden age. They are current world champions after winning the FIBA World Cup in 2019, which they also won in 2006, and they currently sit in second place in the FIBA world rankings, second only to the USA.
So, what’s the secret to Spain’s success?
In this article, we’ll attempt to answer this question, focusing on their coaching staff, team structure and, of course, the Spanish Basketball Federation’s use of video analysis as a coaching tool.
Let’s get started…
The reigning world champs have an extremely versatile coaching staff, led by Italian coach Sergio Scariolo. Although his team of assistants doesn’t always remain consistent, Scariolo works within a strictly defined structure which means that their work doesn’t suffer.
For a team to become world champions, they need to be supported by a great coaching staff…and the Spanish basketball team is certainly no different. In addition to the army of physios, trainers, equipment managers, medics and many others, Sergio Scariolo is normally accompanied by four or five assistant coaches. These assistants are also in charge of carrying out the video analysis work.
During Tokyo 2020, Scariolo was accompanied by:
• Víctor García (Basketball Club Gran Canaria)
• Ángel Sánchez Cañete (Unicaja Málaga)
• Salva Camps (Baxi Manresa)
• Luis Guil
• Jorge Lorenzo
During the FIBA qualifying matches, the coaching staff has been made up of:
• Luis Guil
• Jorge Lorenzo
• Manuel Aller
• Joaquín Prado
One of the keys to successful coaching for the Spanish team is their preparatory work and the distribution of roles. This means that the performance analysis work is always carried out in the same way, regardless of the coach who is in charge.
For big tournaments, this organization is usually done during what the staff themselves define as “the preparation of the preparation”. What they mean is that the coaching staff start working well in advance of a big tournament…long before getting the players in for training even.
The objective of this preliminary preparation is to coordinate and organize all the work that will be done, not only during the championship itself, but also during the preparation for said championship. By doing this, when the players arrive and training sessions begin, the division of labour and the roles of each member of staff have already been defined.
This planning is very important since, during the course of a championship, there is very little time to spare between matches, travel and training. With this in mind, the work of the coaches never ends at the final buzzer. This simply signals the beginning of the preparation for the next match.
In fact, it’s not out of the ordinary to see the coaching staff bashing away at their computers on planes, trains and buses, taking advantage of the little time they have.
In order for all the work to be carried out efficiently by a small team of four or five people, good structure is needed, roles need to be clearly defined, and tasks must have clear objectives.
The distribution of work is such that all the coaches do exactly the same thing in exactly the same way, but focused on different elements of the game. Aspects of the game which are analyzed are:
• Individual characteristics of the players at a technical, tactical and statistical level
• Team performance during attack, defense and special situations
Let’s look at some of these tasks in a little more detail.
As you might expect, this is the analysis of the offensive phases of the match. The coach in charge of this analyzes attacking play in both matches and training. The analysis of an opponent’s offense also falls under this remit.
As if this wasn’t enough, the coach in charge of this also works outside of the field of video analysis, training offense at both individual and team levels.
This is similar to the role of the coach responsible for offensive actions, but focused on defense.
In addition to this, each coach is always open to collaborating with and assisting their colleagues, even if they are in charge of a different area.
For the Spanish basketball team, a special situation is defined as one that has a specific context. This could include plays which happen on the wing, baseline, or after a time out. It also includes plays which happen at critical moments in the game.
Statistics are a very important source of information in any sport, but more so in basketball, where it’s common to see coaches and assistants narrow down statistics for specific parts of a game.
As this represents such a large volume of data, one of the coaching staff is solely responsible for collecting, interpreting, filtering, and sharing all this information.
The work of each individual coach would not be as effective if it wasn’t put together correctly. Because there is so much data coming from multiple sources, it’s important to have a fifth coach who can bring it all together, ready and available to the group at team meetings.
This means that each individual coach can delve into their assigned areas in great depth, and it’s left up to this fifth coach to compile and unify everything into a cohesive whole, bringing order and accessibility to the great swathe of information.
Tweet with pic of Spanish players and coaching staff for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics
The main objective is none other than to have as much information as possible in order to be as fully prepared as possible for upcoming games or championships. But to get to this point, there are a series of smaller, recurring objectives.
These mini-objectives are classified as follows:
In big tournaments, there is very little time to prepare between matches, as they are usually played every two days or so. Because of this, preparation for the next match begins just as the current one ends.
“As there is no time between the end of the game and the next training session, we have to stay on after the game, analyzing for a long time,” says assistant coach, Ángel Sánchez-Cañete, “this is because, before training, there is a meeting between all the coaches where we share key moments of the game which will be carried into training sessions.”
Basically, this means that, before the start of any training session, there is a video session with the players. Aspects of the game that need to be worked on have already been selected, so carrying out the analysis work before this is fundamental. The accumulation of data is done between the end of the game and the start of this team meeting.
"Victor García returns to assist Scariolo prepare for the games"
It’s important not to overload players physically or mentally. This means that the selection of clips to be shown at a training session has to be done very carefully. Despite the huge amount of video data collected by the coaches, the shown clips must be as concise as possible, short with clearly defined messages.
With games every two days, players already carry a heavy mental and physical burden. One of the objectives of team meetings is positive reinforcement. That is, the coaching staff want to congratulate the team on what they have done well. This keeps up team morale, but at the same time, they will insert some aspects which need to be improved. This is a delicate balancing act.
The two previous points can be summarized in this one, as the main objective is to prepare guidelines so that the guidelines of the head coach and physical trainers can be applied in the best possible way.
To do this, from the first day, they concentrate on an internal analysis of the training. At the same time, they advance the work of opposition analysis. This is how situations are defined in order to improve them through video analysis and training.
So, that’s all for this article. We’ve taken an in-depth look at the video analysis work that has been done by the Spanish basketball team over the last several years. This has undoubtedly been a factor in Spain being crowned World Champions and to becoming one of the top two teams in the world.
Thanks for reading!
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