An interview with Marc Koreman of the Boom Basketball Club in Belgium.
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?
Koreman: Our team Boom Basketball is not an academy but a club team with boys and girls teams, playing for the Belgian Federation: men’s team in 2nd division and the female team in the 1st division (national); the youth teams play regional for VBL (Flemish Basketball Liga); There is also a liga with the french speaking teams. Our federation started last year with a “Peanuts-competition”: during a day (morning or afternoon) a team organized a tournament in which teams participate, always 3 on 3, teams with 3 or 4 players…So this year we have about 10 organizations- about 25 teams are interested and they decide free, where they go and play. Rules: special for those kids from 6 till 8y.old. In our club we aren’t 100% pro.
BM: What are the ages of the players in your Academy?
Koreman: In our club we start with boys and girls who are five-years-old (infant school): 2×10 weekly practices of 1 hour; not a special basketball program, only fun and exercises for running, jumping, coordination, ball handling with all kinds of balls, etc…
The ages of the players:
Group 1: Pre-microben: 1st and 2nd year basic school: six and seven-years-old: regular competition from October until Easter: 5v5, each player has to play, eight periods of four minutes playtime.
Group 2: Microben: 3rd and 4th year basic school: same rules
Group 3: Benjamines: 5th and 6th year basic school: 4 x 10 minutes: each player has to participate in a quarter.
Group 4: Pupillen: 12-13 years-old.
Group 5: Miniemen: 14-15 years-old.
Group 6: Boys: cadetten 16-17 years-old. Girls: cadetten 16-18 years-old.
Group 7: Only boys: juniors 18-19 years-old.
With our girls teams (group 3 and 4), we play in boys competitions (only boys can make our girls better). Our girls and boys from grade 1 until grade 3 use the same programs (boys from grade 4 and later other technical coordinator).
BM: How are players selected? Is there a try-out? Are players cut?
Koreman: For groups 1, 2 and 3: recruitment in schools of our city; groups 4 and 5: our own players + selection of better players from other teams of our region. Players are cut when their level isn’t good enough to play on a national level (Flanders). We try to send them to teams which play on provincial level.
BM: Who finances the academy/underage programs? Do players pay tuition? Alternatively, do players get paid while there?
Koreman: Finances: our club (sponsoring + cafeteria of the gym). Players pay a yearly tuition depending on number of practices. Youth players aren’t paid.
BM: Do players attend school? How is the academy organized around school requirements/activities?
Koreman: All of our players go to regular schools; two of our best players (girls) go to “top sports school.”
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?
Koreman: Normal structured season
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?
Koreman: Group 1: 2x 1 hour
Group 2 and 3: 2x 1h30 and once a week specialization
Group 4, 5 and 6: 3x 1h30 (individual specialization included)
BM: How many games would a normal player play at various age (U-12, U-15, U-18) groups in one calendar year?
Koreman: Games: U12 play 18 games regular competition + games for the different cups: Cup of the province and cup of Flanders; total number of games depends on the results.
U14 and U16 play regular competition: 2 parts = last one: the best eight teams of Flanders in one series.
BM: Do the players lift weights? Is it part of the academy program?
Koreman: No weight training till cadet-level. We use other programs to make our girls stronger.
BM: Is there a nutritionist? Are the players’ diets monitored?
Koreman: Till this moment we had no nutritionist. But next year we start with a medical staff (nutrition, physical trainer, doctor).
BM: Are athletes tested? Fitness tests? Anthropomorphic tests? Is there a standard evaluation used?
Koreman: Each year we test our athletes: running, jumping.
BM: How many coaches/trainers in the Academy? How many players?
Koreman: Girls basketball: seven trainers: four with the highest qualification (A) and three with a B- qualification; (three of them also teach in schools).
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?
Koreman: Year to year players drop out: +/-5 %. New players join (see above: our detection starts at 10 years-old).
BM: Is there a specific methodology for the entire club?
Koreman: We have a specific methodology for the entire club (from grade1 until grade 6)
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?
Koreman: Our program is based on skill development with a yearly evaluation process.
BM: How are coaches evaluated? By wins and losses? The fundamental quality of the players?
Koreman: Our technical director (coordinator) evaluates each coach, follows practices and on each meeting with the coaches we discuss our program.
Our basketball-federation and a University started last year with a “Basket Pass”: it is a program concerning quality: we participate and our result was very good, especially about our basketball programs.