In my sixth year as a coach, I am fortunate to join staff of coaching legend Aito Garcia Reneses in Girona, Spain. I have played for him as a player for three years almost two decades ago and I have always thought how wonderful it would be to start my coaching career to his side. So, you can only imagine the thrill that I felt when Aito called me to ask me to join him in Girona, the newcomer in Spanish top ACB league.
Every day spent with him in the office and on the floor, or on the road games is a real treat. His fifty years of experience in coaching is visible when he speaks plainly about basketball, his way of thinking and working. Aito is not afraid to be different, to do things differently, and to make mistakes by trying new things.
His conviction that his methods are good, is unshakeable, and since he has had many years and decades of success, it is very hard to argue.
In a competitive sports world, where winning is demanded by almost everyone, Aito stresses the importance that his players work patiently and improving in detail. Instead of speaking about winning and competing, he demands concentration, learning process and that everyone does his best, always.
He is also not a great fan of tactics. “Generally, most coaches give too much importance to tactics. But tactics are useless without proper fundamentals. You must learn to enjoy the details of fundamentals within the game!”
Therefore, since day one, the focus has been to improve our players as far as their fundamentals, improving their habits and overall understanding the game of basketball. Tactics has been pushed aside, but not completely abandoned. We would prepare our players for the type of defenses we are about to face, but always keeping in mind the process of learning and creating habits.
We are in the middle of the season, and our team has a record 7 wins and 10 losses. We were able to compete against the best, and defeat teams that are within our league, meaning our level of quality. What is more important is, that our team is playing better every time, and that our players understand more the way we want to play. Therefore, their habits are getting better, their fundamentals as well, and their confidence is growing by each game.
I am not sure where is our ceiling as far as our talent, and I am not sure if we can compete realistically for the playoff spots. All I know is, that all the players, especially the younger ones, made an incredible improvement and there is still room to grow.
Main reason is the everyday work, but most importantly, the presence of someone, who has done it for some many years, in so many different clubs, with so many players. Aito Garcia Reneses. I am so blessed to be part of this process, to take notes and improve my own coaching ideas.