Carlos Diodati, Head Coach Club Lanus (Buenos Aires) under-19’s and former assistant coach, Argentina National Team, answered several questions about player development in Argentina.
BM: What is the structure of the Academy or underage program for the club? Are there teams at each youth age groups which meet the individual’s development needs or is there something beyond normal underage club teams for players?
Diodati: The structure is formed by clubs with different categories according to the ages. 7 to 10-years-old: pre-mini-basketball; 11 to 12: mini-basketball, they play with a low rim ( 2,65m) and different ball size; 13-years-old: pre-infantiles; 14-15 infantiles; 16-17 cadets; 18-19 Juniors; and under 22. There is a coach for three categories. The game day is Saturday. At the end of the last game, the coach’s brain is burned.
BM: How are players selected? Is there a try-out? Are players cut?
Diodati: Big clubs recruits from poorest clubs. They use a summer basketball camp.
BM: Do players attend school? How is the academy organized around school requirements/activities?.
Diodati: The education system is not related with the clubs, it works separately. That is one of the reasons why the under-17 talented players abandon school to play in Europe. Pepe Sanchez (Temple University) and Facundo Gorgi (Florida International University) are two exceptions.
BM: How is the year structured? Is it structured around a season with a normal pre-season, competitive season, post-season, off-season? Or is the year periodized differently?
Diodati: It depends on the coach (his preparation) and the clubs (the commitment with sport). All players play approximately 30 to 35 games in the year. We do a master plan (periodization) with different blocks: conditioning, individual technique, tactics, special situations, etc. depending on the stage of preparation.
BM: How many hours per week do players train? Can we get a sample week for the average player? Do players train outside the club with other teams/organizations/clubs/schools?
Diodati: Big clubs train all days 2 hours. Small clubs, three times a week, hour and a half. The players play with others teams in the summer (Off-Season).
BM: How many games would a normal player play at various age (U-12, U-15, U-18) groups in one calendar year?
Diodati: Approximately 30 to 35 games
BM: Do the players lift weights? Is it part of the academy program?
Diodati: Yes they do it as part of their preparation in the pre-season.
BM: Is there a nutritionist? Are the players’ diets monitored?
Diodati: No. The coach guides them.
BM: Are athletes tested? Fitness tests? Anthropomorphic tests? Is there a standard evaluation used?
Diodati: Yes, it is done by the conditioning coach.
BM: How many coaches/trainers in the Academy? How many players?
Diodati: One coach has three categories or teams. One trainer for all teams (four teams).
BM: What are the coaching qualifications? How does the academy hire a coach? Are coaches volunteers or paid staff?
Diodati: The people in charge of hiring the coaches are volunteer workers because they have a son playing there. Coaching here is no easy job. The coaches work most of the time without a contract. We do it because we love the game and the spirit of the competition.
BM: What does an average workout entail? Are workouts individual, group or team practices?
Diodati: We workout in both ways individual and team practices
BM: What is the attrition rate? How many players drop out from year to year? Do new players join, or is there a funnel effect, where there are fewer and fewer players as the ages progress?
Diodati: This changes in different clubs. Clubs with professional teams are recruiting always.
BM: Is there a specific methodology for the entire club?
Diodati: Yes and it has to do with coach philosophy.
BM: Is there a specific skill development curriculum for players? Is there an assessment or evaluation process where a 12 year old should have X skills and a 16 year old should have Y skills?
Diodati: Yes, it is given to each player as part of his improvement program. It is different for each player. They work on his weak points.
BM: Is there anything else you can add that may be valuable to our readers?
Diodati: Yes, I would like to share this: most of us have others jobs; someone works at the office or teaching in three or four different schools in a 8 to 10 hour a day. We practice at night in the winter in the most of times alone with a bunch of players in a dirty court with a few balls and poor salary too. We won a gold medal in Olympics games, we have five players in the NBA, and others players in Europe. How is it possible? Because coaches and players have the same feeling for this game. We love it.