Coaching Clinic Notes: European Basketball Coach Jasmin Repesa

I attended a fantastic basketball clinic that featured renowned European coach Jasmin Repeša. Coach Repeša has risen through the ranks of international basketball, first as a player and now as a coach.

Aside from being the Croatian National team coach, Repeša has also recently worked with Euroleague contender Lottomatica Roma and previously won two Turkish Cups and two Turkish Championships with Tofas S.K.

The theme of his basketball clinic = BALANCE

Have you ever participated in a 2-hour basketball clinic on balance? Ya… me neither. Well, until then.

Here were the three keys:

(1) Team balance

(2) Defensive balance

(3) Personal body balance – defensively and offensively.

Now, before I give you a brain dump of some (my) highlights from the clinic, I have to say that really I enjoy sitting in on basketball clinics done by people for whom English is not their first language. Yes, some things are lost translation. But, other things are said in such a direct and succinct way. There’s no fluff or desire to be sexy with the use of language. With that, I’ll give it to you, the way he gave it to us…

Coaching Nuggets:

  • Balance lets you have the ‘first step.’ The first step gives you the advantage. Doesn’t matter what the age of the athlete. In fact, balance is just as, if not more, important for a senior national team athlete than for a younger athlete. “Basketball IS first step.”
  • Good defensive balance makes you quick (defensively). Players must develop controlled balance.
  • Catch (on balance) by getting “under the ball.”
  • Catching, cutting, running, sliding, the “next game” (i.e. transition from OFF to DEF or DEF to OFF)… must all be done on balance.
  • Very few players catch thinking about the next play. [SB: This is a mentality – skill – that must/can be taught. Read 1-Second Advantage.]
  • Be on balance on the catch, after the pass, on the shot, after the shot.
  • Shoulders need to be relaxed (to optimize first step) … [SB Note: Repeša spent a *LOT* of time correcting the demo athletes on their shoulders. “Relaxed!” his voice would boom. This was one of those things that you could tell was very important to him, but not often discussed in North American basketball. Track coaches make this a point of emphasis for their sprinters. Something to give thought to.]
  • Defensively, don’t elevate your body or extend your arms (to lunge or reach) – even on close outs. Just adjust the distance between your body and the offensive player.
  • “No balance, no possibility of quick recovery.”
  • Wish, desire, concentration is a requirement that players need to have for help defense. Helping on the ball must be practiced everyday. “Move together with the ball” on the air time of the ball. New ball position = new defensive position. “Quick help… quicker recovery.”
  • In Euroleague/International basketball, 80% of set offense starts or finishes with the pick and roll.
  • When teaching defense, start with… (1) individual responsibility, (2) help-recovery, (3) communication and (4) your system.