October 16, 2008

Basketball Development in Iran

This season, the first player from Iran will play in the NBA with the Memphis Grizzlies. Today I have an interview with Safa Ali Kamalian, former Iranian national team assistant coach and former Director of Mini Basketball committee in Iran.

BM: What is the structure of the national team program?
SAK: All of our national teams are under the supervision of the National Team Organization which appoints the national teams’ technical staff – in cooperation with Coaches committee – and approves their programs by consultation with the National Federation Directing Board.

BM: What are the ages of the players?
SAK: National age group teams are: Mini Basketball (U12), Passerelle (13-14), Cadets (15-16) and Juniors (17-18)

BM: How are players selected? Is there a try-out?
SAK: Players are recommended by each province’s basketball board as well as recruiting by National team coaches during the national championships.

BM: Who finances the academy/underage programs?
SAK: National Federation which is under the supervision of Physical Education Organization (PEO) finances all the national team programs and players usually get paid for their transportation to their home towns. Their accommodation and food is also covered while they are in national team camps.

BM: Does the academy play together as a team? Do the players play individually with other teams?
SAK: Players play as team(s). It is sometimes possible for some age groups to organize 2-3 teams in each and supervise them throughout the whole program.

BM: Do players attend school? How is the academy organized around school requirements/activities?
SAK: All the camps are organized during the summer, weekends or national holidays by which players are also enabled to fulfill their academical obligations.

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?
SAK: The season is usually organized considering the international programs which are in every 2 years and the coaches try to periodize the whole year defining goals and participating in internationally organized tournaments as well as playing against stronger/older teams locally.

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?
SAK: Weekly practice hours are different because of the available time during the school time. 4-6 sessions could be organized during this period. But in summer week long camps could be organized in which they practice twice per day – morning/evening practices.

During this time and within the intervals of national team’s rest period players usually attend their clubs’ or home town team’s activities.

BM: How many games would a normal player play at various age (U-12, U-15,U-18) groups in one calendar year?
SAK: Depending on the age group they usually have between 10-20 games.

BM: Do the players lift weights?
SAK: U-15 and younger teams don’t lift weights but U-18 teams start weight lifting carefully!!!

BM: Is there a nutritionist? Are the players’ diets monitored?
SAK: Nutrition in National team camps is under the supervision of Nutritionist and medical doctors.

BM: Are athletes tested? Fitness tests? Anthropomorphic tests? Is there a standard evaluation used?
SAK: National teams usually get tested in our Olympic Academy Test Center for their standard physical abilities.

BM: How many coaches/trainers in the Academy? How many players?
SAK: Technical staff in each age group usually consists of 1 head coach, 2 assistant coaches, 1 physical trainer and each group has 20-40 players in one or two teams.

BM: What are the coaching qualifications? How does the academy hire a coach? Are coaches volunteers or paid staff?
SAK: Coaches are licensed by coaches committee and assigned by National teams’ organization. They get paid.

BM: What does an average workout entail? Are workouts individual, group or team practices?
SAK: Most of the practice time include the individual and team fundamental workouts.

BM: Is there a specific methodology?
SAK: Methodologies are different from coach to coach and unfortunately there’s no harmonized frameworks!

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?
SAK: Unfortunately not yet, but the coaches committee has established basketball training centers throughout the country in which educated coaches who should pass specific qualifications supervise trainings and the final goal is to reach to that point.

BM: How are coaches evaluated? By wins and losses? The fundamental quality of the players?
SAK: Coaches are evaluated by test during the refreshment clinics, their overall programs and performance monitored by coaches committee and national team organization.

BM: Is there anything else you can add that may be valuable to our readers?
SAK: Our national U-17 and U-20 teams won the titles in 2004 Asian championships and the National U-17 team was the runner up in 2002.

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