ORLANDO — Being a successful basketball coach requires much more than just understanding the X’s and O’s of the game.
Winning coaches relate to their players and earn their trust. They stick to their disciplines and principles. They recognize and appreciate the importance of team chemistry and continuity. Valuing sportsmanship and a strong work ethic are also critical. And teaching those fundamentals all starts at an early age.
Orlando Magic Head Coach Frank Vogel and his assistants helped educate local high school and youth league coaches on those facets and more during a coaches clinic at the Amway Center on Saturday. The clinic was the second event to tip off the newly formed Magic Youth Basketball Academy. The first event was the Magic FIT Draft Combine, which featured a clinic for local youth to learn drills and fitness exercises from Magic coaches. Magic FIT is an important component to the Magic Academy as it prepares youth to be in the necessary physical condition to participate in basketball whether through leagues, camps or clinics. Through the Magic Academy, youth will not only learn the game of basketball, but the importance of teamwork, sportsmanship, leadership and health and wellness to accomplish their goals.
“Our whole league has a big initiative to spread the valuable lessons of our game to the youth,’’ Vogel said. “This (camp) is one of the things that we’re doing in our community and it helps give back to the coaches who serve our youth.”
Saturday’s coaches clinic was unique in that attendees went from station to station to learn about different aspects of coaching. Vogel along with assistants Chad Forcier, Corliss Williamson, David Adelman and Jay Hernandez each offered important pieces of advice.
“Connecting with your players was always a strong message,” Vogel said when asked what he learned from his coaching mentors while moving up the ranks.
“You try to help the people that you are around. Like any teacher, you are trying to enhance their lives and give them great learning experiences and teach them ways to succeed,” he added.
Some of the stations focused more on fundamentals and play-calling while others emphasized communication strategies. There also was opportunity for the youth coaches to learn some good fitness tips from Magic Strength and Conditioning Coach Bill Burgos. Matt Hill, who manages advanced scouting and player development, and Physical Therapist Ron Weathers also provided insight.
While obviously the player talent and experience level is diverse, the art of coaching is not all that different from youth leagues to high school to college to the pros.
“A ton (of similarities),” said Adelman, who was a prominent high school coach in Oregon prior to joining the Minnesota Timberwolves as a player development coach in 2011. “Chemistry, ball movement, defensive principles, program building. That’s what we’re hoping to do here (with the Magic).”
At the end of the seminar, it was very apparent that all of the youth and high school coaches gained so much wisdom. Some left with entire notebooks filled with newfound coaching tactics and lessons.
“I really enjoyed the interactive part and asking one-on-one questions,” Winter Springs High School girls basketball coach Jerry Saunders said. “The accessibility to everyone and candid responses (was impressive).”
“It’s very clear that they are set and have goals to help raise up some of the younger players and contribute to the community,” Astronaut High School (Titusville) girls basketball coach John Wright said. “Their knowledge and their experience and sharing that with us helps a lot.”
The clinic was also a good warmup for the Magic’s coaches as they prepare for training camp later this month.
“I’m very excited,” Vogel said. “I’m looking forward to getting after it.
“Youth initiatives are a big part of what we do as the Orlando Magic. We want to compete for wins and compete for championships on the court, but we want to serve our community and try and improve our community. That’s what it’s really all about.”
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