Alex Sarama Profile picture
Jan 11 22 tweets 6 min read
The Swedish Basketball Federation are the first🏀 federation in the world to adopt an ecological framework with their coach and player development. What does this mean in-context, and how can coaches, teams and other organisations benefit from incorporating these ideas? Image
Sweden's coach educators @RikardAspegren and @AndrewPleick just had @markstkhlm on their Coachteamet podcast. It was a fantastic episode, with Mark giving excellent responses in an easily digestible manner:…
The podcast is a great introduction for coaches looking to learn more about moving away from traditional coaching methodologies. I have summarised some of the best parts of the podcast in this thread...
It all starts with asking the question: what is skill acquisition? Mark makes a great point that in many coach education courses, no one talks about what skill is. "What is skill and how do we learn skills? What happens to them, do we own them, keep them, do they stay with us?!"
Mark goes on by saying "Traditionally the idea is that skill is something in our heads, and coaches can plant this through showing players the “correct” way of performing something." This is what we see frequently at all levels of basketball from NBA to grassroots...
Coaches work with mental models of how they think a skill should be performed. For instance, many replies on my dribbling thread earlier this week saw coaches say that the players were not dribbling the 'correct way.' So what is skill? Image
"We need to understand skill is a functional fit between an individual and an environment over time. Because it changes: players adapt, bodies adapt, the environment changes etc." - @markstkhlm
Mark gives a specific example of how in a game, fatigue sets in and players must adapt. Being down 2 points with a minute left in the 4th quarter changes how a player performs skills vs being up by 15 points in the 1st quarter.
This is very different to the traditional approach which is coach-centric, with the head coach, rather than the players, at the centre of the practice: “I’m going to show you how to perform this skill and now you’ve learnt it.”
@AndrewPleick made a great point about how frequently we see this in basketball, with coaches and skills trainers showing one very specific way of dribbling, passing, shooting. There’s never a consideration for what the player prefers and what suits their body.
Mark then referenced Gibson’s knowledge of vs knowledge about. Traditionally coaches teach knowledge about. This is descriptive as it including showing ways to perform a skill, such as having your foot and hand in a particular position. However...
skilful performance in the game requires knowledge of. This is IN the game and in context. Mark goes onto say that "We have to develop players knowledge IN the game. Just because they can answer a question doesn’t mean they can perform the skill in their environment!"
When it comes to interpreting this practically, this means coaches must be more patient giving their players opportunities to explore. This also means as coaches we must have some type of information that is representative in our practice activities.
By playing with an opponent, this ensures players are acting on relevant information while dribbling. Instead of breaking the skill apart (decomposing) and dribbling on-air or versus cones / a fake defender, we’re keeping it together.
@RikardAspegren asked a great Q about the role of the coach. Mark replied about how instruction is part of coaching, but over-instruction is the issue. I can tell you what (dribble past the defender in a 1-on-1) but the key thing is we're not telling the player how to dribble.
@AndrewPleick spoke about how coaches in Sweden are buying into the CLA, but that many are also resistant and say "yes but we need to work on their fundamentals and technique." This is often the most frequented response I receive to my posts, blogs, podcasts etc...
Mark's response was about skill is not about fundamentals, it’s about functional. "The only fundamental we’re dealing with in sport is gravity!"What’s fundamental for one player isn’t fundamental for another player because we have different bodies: heights, arm lengths, weights.
Cont... "A lot of those fundamentals don’t apply as they’re averages based on one universal average. Functional = you’re finding your unique solution through exploration that works for YOU."
Mark referenced his foundations for task design. Is there a ball, an opponent, direction, consequence (eg transition if opponent steals the ball)? The diagram below is taken from Mark's blog and can easily be adapted to basketball... Image
One of the reasons why traditional methods remain so popular is due to the copy-paste nature of coach and player development schemes in basketball. For example, Andrew spoke about when he was sent to Lithuania for coach development.
He returned and said are you implying I should implement what I saw in 🇱🇹? This would never work for me, my personality and players. He saw very authoritative coaching that wouldn’t work in his environment back in 🇸🇪(12 year olds). We have to understand the environment we're in!
I love the work being done in Sweden and it's been a pleasure to be involved with the new coach education program. Swedish coaches are now being immersed in a completely different approach. Hoping many other federations and organisations follow suit over the years!

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More from @AlexJSarama

Jan 13
👉 Small changes can lead to big differences. Within shooting, there are three incredibly simple changes that can be applied to traditional shooting practice to enhance variability. Our players do this whenever we’re about to start practice…
1️⃣ Range. The shooter constantly changes range by moving between mid-range, FIBA 3PT, NBA and Deep 3PT.
2️⃣ Location. The shooter also changes location on each rep. This could be going to a completely new spot (ie wing to corner) or as simple as just taking one big step after the previous shot.
Read 7 tweets
Jan 9
I frequently get asked why I don’t do 1-on-0 dribbling activities, including two ball dribbling, as well as why I don’t teach specific dribble moves such as cross-jabs, dribble counters etc. The reason is due to the fact that none of these practice activities align with...
skill acquisition ideas. There is no “central controller” in the brain which determines what movements to use and when. Basketball players do not store techniques in their body and then magically pull these out at the right times in the game!
Sadly, this ‘black box’ theory is a false presumption that many basketball practices are based upon, whereby players rehearse techniques in finishing, dribbling, shooting etc over and over again.
Read 8 tweets
Jun 18, 2022
Tag is one of the best ways to improve dribbling, warm-up and start practice on a fun note. This is obstacle team tag, ⏰ stops when last player gets tagged. Great for beginners and pros, and everyone in-between. Read on for more from today’s camp with Joliet Academy in Chicago…
3 on 2 off the get using the pitch and slip. Snap it like a 🏈 to pitch early and get underneath the D vs waiting for the hand-off. Played around with the spacing, with off-ball teammate always in a new location, creating different opportunities for action every time.
Here the off-ball teammate is single gap away from the get recover. Early 45 cut to create a double gap for the passer coming off the get.
Read 10 tweets
May 10, 2022
Looking for a player development intern at my academy in Italy next season! All accommodation, meals and other expenses will be provided. This is perfect for someone passionate about evidence-informed ideas and transformational coaching. Read on for more... @BBallImmersion
Unfortunately due to visa regulations, we are restricted to candidates from the European Union or Canada. That said, this is still a really exciting chance to be part of something unique within the basketball world.
You would work with me every day to provide the best possible experience for our players. We will have between fifteen to twenty-one players, all aged between 16-19 and from various countries in Europe. The ideal candidate should be passionate about evidence-informed ideas.
Read 8 tweets
May 2, 2022
Why is it conducive for basketball coaches to explore evidence-informed approaches? Why not just continue spending time watching games, making X & O breakdowns, recruiting or spending time doing other things? These are some of my ideas and reflections.
I've been spending a lot of time recently going deeper into the research. I can understand why some coaches are skeptical of the time investment in this. But there's no other period where I've felt more confident in my coaching. I'm able to learn and then immediately apply.
I don't share set plays and X's and O's. It's not because I'm not interested in them. I am very interested, but more so in the interactions of the players and how they act (or don’t act) upon affordances within each set.
Read 19 tweets
Apr 26, 2022
🎬Conceptual Offense Clips from Today’s Practice
👉 No possession is ever the same. Being deceptive through combining different triggers and using a variety of coverage solutions to relentlessly create advantages
🗣 This is all done without any verbal call on the triggers
In Sweden I will be presenting on conceptual offense 2.0 and all the new ideas I’ve been working on this year. Some of these are included on this thread.
We played the Oscars. Receive a nomination (bonus point) each time you prevent an aggressive coverage. Players do an amazing job here deceiving the defense with a subtle change on this wedge (1st is screen own, 2nd is screen the screener)
Read 16 tweets

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