|Kestutis Kemzura with Michael Schwarz, Head of the FIBA Europe Coaching Department.|
The Albert Schweitzer Tournament is a highlight on the basketball calendar.
Every two years, new talent blossoms on the basketball courts in the city of Mannheim.
Off the court, side events complete the whole basketball picture.
This year, the tournament framed two events. In Weinheim, 30 referees gathered in order to get their international FIBA licence.
Few kilometres away, it was the coaches listening and learning.
Organised by the German Basketball Federation, an international Coaching Clinic was held on 12 and 13 April, with 250 coaches participating.
FIBA Europe supported the Coaching Clinic by getting Lithuania head coach Kestutis Kemzura as a speaker. He was joined by FC Bayern head coach Dirk Bauermann and Paul Gorris, assistant coach of Australia's U18 Men national team.
"Every year, we support approximately 15-20 clinics by getting coaches and experts to give lectures. Interested national federations can contact the FIBA Europe Coaching Department to apply for our support", Michael Schwarz, Head of the FIBA Europe Coaching Department, said.
It was the first time the department cooperated with Kemzura.
"I am very happy about the Coaching Clinic. The German federation did again a great job organising the clinic and the high number of participants proves the interest in this event.
"I am especially delighted that we could get Kestutis Kemzura as a lecturer. My thanks to him for preparing and working on the topics with such accuracy and sharing his knowledge with other coaches.
"The feedback we received from the participating coaches was very positive," he added.
"I would like to point out that these clinics are a very good opportunity for the national federations to send their coaches not only to learn, but also to see high level basketball as well as making international contacts," Schwarz concluded.
This year, this opportunity was taken amongst others by Sweden sending 34 coaches to Mannheim, Denmark (14 coaches), Finland (ten coaches) and Iran (five coaches).
Kestutis Kemzura has so far done clinics in Lithuania in cooperation with the Lithuanian Basketball Federation. The clinic in Mannheim was his first big international clinic.
"For me, it is the first time that I am in Mannheim and I am really glad to be here. It is an honour for me to speak in front of so many coaches and I enjoy sharing my knowledge and experience.
"The clinic is well-organised and fun with lots of great and helpful discussions," he said after the first day.
On the first day, Kemzura was lecturing on secondary break and transition offense, while on the second day basic defensive principles as well as individual player's development were on programme.
Kemzura agreed that clinics are a great opportunity for coaches to exchange themselves, but that it is individuality that matters in the end.
"Nowadays coaches have so many possibilities to educate and inform themselves. Clinics like this are always good to share information and exchange experiences.
"It is crucial though to use this information and to pick parts for oneself in order to build an own system, an own coaching programme," he stated.
A special session was held for 30 national team coaches, including German coaches from youth and senior national teams like U20 Men coach Frank Menz and women's national team coach Andreas Wagner.
The coaches of the participating teams at Albert Schweitzer Tournament were also invited.
PREPARING A NATIONAL TEAM
|Kemzura became head coach of the Lithuanian national team in 2009, clinching the Bronze medal at the 2010 World Championship.|
Kemzura lectured on the characteristics of preparing a national team compared to a club team.
"At first glance preparing a club team and a national team are both preparing basketball games. There are a couple of differences though. Preparing a national team means dealing with shorter terms. We as coaches want to prepare the players the best way we can, wanting them to be in the peak of shape and even increase the form for the final," Kemzura told fibaeurope.com.
Physical fitness is a big part of the preparation period, with the coaches not only trying to prepare their players for the summer event, but also to build a basis for the club season.
With all teams being in the best physical shape possible, it is the mental power to make the difference.
"In the summer, there are more crucial games. The first game is very important. The pressure is naturally higher. It's not a long period and the tournament is very dynamic which can be dangerous.
"So the psychological aspect plays a prominent role. It is important not to lose the spirit and use the days off - if there is time - to get rid of the pressure."
According to Kemzura, focusing on plays and systems that work and keeping the confidence up is key during the tournament.
"We coaches try to work out an optimal plan to keep the players' concentration up, using inspiration and inspirational videos at some point of the tournament as a reserve.
"You have to focus on the things you can control," Kemzura concluded.
Videos of Kemzura's lectures will soon be uploaded on the FIBA Europe Coaching Website. If you are not registered yet, sign in for free and go on the Coaching Clinics section.