Sunday, June 27, 2010

Orlando Pro-Combine

I’ve had the opportunity to visit one of the combines celebrated during these days in the United States. It’s been a great experience, and I’d like to share it with you all.

To begin with, I’d like to thank Abilio Muñoz, from the Spanish agency 4 Players Sports, and of course, the guys from Winning Ways Pro, an American organization with years of experience in these events. Specially I am thankful to their Vice - President, Matt Resnick, who made our days in Orlando really nice.

Now, what’s a Pro – Combine? Well, there are some differences between them, but basically what you find there is a group of players looking for a contract for the next season. These players pay a fee and go to that place to practice and play during some days, trying to show their best skills and to work hard to be in the coaches’ minds. Some companies, as Winning Ways do with Basketball Eye sevices, also upload the combine’s games to their web, where many other coaches and G.M.’s can whatch them online.

This combine was celebrated in Orlando, Florida, US East coast. What could I say about the Orlando? If you want to go there for tourism, you’d better be ready for a hot weather, for hummidity (the coast, their lakes – be aware of the aligators) and you’d better be ready to drive, because if you don’t have a car, you’re stucked or you’ll spend a lot of money in cabs)

I’ve met there many coaches (from the States, Canada, and also Europeans) all of them looking for talent for their teams. Also some american agents, introducing themselves and their players. I’ve been lucky, good contacts and good people who have made me enjoy these days.

After a couple of flights (many hours up in the air) I arrived to Orlando International Airport where they were waiting to take us to our hotel.

A first class hotel (where the coaches met to watch the seventh game of the NBA finals) half an hour from downtown and ten minutes from the gym. All these distances, as I say, by car. The hotel had a shuttle for us to go to the gym and a driver who kindly took us to have dinner or whatever we needed once in the hotel (trying to have healthy meals is almost impossible mission…)

To begin with the development of the combine, it started with a meeting with the players (there were fifty, give or take, some of them with experience in European basketball (Germany, Greece) in South America (Mexico) Asia (Japan, Taiwan) or even middle East (Quatar) and also players with their college careers just finished or some of them already playing pro – leagues in the USA. Barry Mestel, a Coach with wide experience as scout for the NBA or CBA, and who works during the seston with different players (from high school to WNBA) explained the players how the combine was going to work.

He introduced ourselves (European coaches) to the players, letting them know that they should introduce themselves along the camp, so they could ask questions or explain their hopes and goals. The players took the advine and almost every single one came and talked to us during the first day. It’s clear they wanted to give a good image of themselves and they wanted us to know how hard they would work to get a contract overseas.

The practices started with a warm up led by a pro – trainter, then Coach Melter led a basketball practice (one day it was a team practice, and one more they worked in groups) and we had the option to work with those players who we considered more interesting. Then, the games between the five teams let us see them in a competitive situation.

Something very interesting and not so often seen in these kind of Camps was a semynar in which the trainer explained them the keys for their nutrition as pro basketball players, and also some tips to work out once the season is over.

Talking about the games, we had the opportunity to ask the coaches to play specific situations both in offense and defense. Our work was really easy during the combine thanks to the collaboration of the coaches and the organization. Every single player had the same opportunities during the games, as they played the same amount of time. That’s really important in these events, so they can be seen properly by the coaches.

The contact with the players is really important, and what makes this combines a success. Watching them practice, not only on the court, but also with the trainer, to see how they behave in different situations, punctuality, attention to the coaches, and of corse, to talk to them and receive direct feedback… all these details you can’t find while watching a dvd or reading a report.

Once the Pro – Combine ended, we went to Rashard Lewis’ summer camp. We were talking with them for some minutes, and he showed us first hand the reason why he is a star and why the kids love him so much. He appears to be a great guy off the court, and is always ready to help the kids and to play with them. We even had the opportunity to work with the kids.

Definitely, a very good experience we all would like to repeat in the future.

No comments: