We are honoured to have in the family of champions mr Saša Obradović, a world class personality of basketball and welcome him with an exclusive interview on career topics, about ChampionsID.com and what it takes to be great in sports either as a player or as a coach.
Saša Obradović is a Serbian professional basketball coach and former player.
At club level, Obradović played for Crvena zvezda, Limoges, Alba Berlin, Virtus Roma, Budućnost Podgorica and RheinEnergie Köln until his retirement in 2005.
With the Yugoslav national team, Obradović won three EuroBasket gold medals and one bronze. He also won the gold medal at the 1998 FIBA World Championship in Greece and an Olympic silver medal in 1996.
Immediately after his retirement as a basketball player, Obradović was appointed as the head coach of RheinEnergie Köln, where he served until 2008. He also coached at Kyiv, Turów Zgorzelec and Donetsk. After coaching those teams, he joined Alba Berlin in 2012. He won the BBL-Pokal in 2013, 2014 and 2016 with Alba. On May 23, 2016, it was announced that Obradović would leave Alba.
Korać Cup champion: 1994-95
3x Yugoslav League champion: 1992-93, 1993-94, 2000-01
German League champion: 1996-97
4x German Cup champion: 1997, 2004, 2005
As head coach:
German League champion: 2005-06
Ukrainian League champion: 2011-12
4x German Cup champion: 2007, 2013, 2014, 2016
German Bundesliga Coach of the Year: 2014-2015
CID: What it takes today to become a professional basketball player? Talent? Hard work? Dedication?
SO: All the above are are very important to become a pro. Everything has its part but the key is in the details. Its not an easy thing to be a pro and become a complete player. In Basketball today size is really important. You begin with that and then the natural talent is equally vital in order to have the base to work on. However no matter how big or talented you are, there are some other things that will make you shine. It’s your appetite to work and fight for your goals, to be lucky enough to have good coaches to teach you and lead you to a good direction to become great. Dedication is significant but setting the big goals and doing every day your maximum to achieve them, is even more important.
CID: What is the main directive or point of emphasis for you when you’re looking for young players?
SO: As I mentioned before a good body is the number 1. Size, athleticism and speed. The second one I am looking at is the skill level. Some people are born with a natural talent and also they learn faster than others. Some others look like they have to work more. Equally important for me when I am watching a game is how this guy could behave in a team. Is he capable of becoming a good teammate? Basketball is a team sport. Its vital to communicate well with the coach and your teammates. Last but not least is the mental toughness of the player. How someone behaves, how he thinks in difficult situations. How he performs in a number of similar situations.
CID: What are the most important character building qualities for young players that want to compete in the top level?
SO: There are a lot of things. People talk a lot about confidence and mental toughness. This most of the times is something you have in your genes but it’s something also that you build throughout the year and hard work. Your work ethic and your ability to learn are key in order to make it to the pros. Arrogance can spoil everything. You should never be satisfied with the level you are. You should be competitive every single day.
CID: How easy is for young and talented players with no connections to be discovered today?
SO: Its very hard. And that’s why I believe that ChampionsID.com is a great way that can help so many athletes and professionals out there. In professional sports usually you choose the players who already have achieved things and have proven themselves. But the young guys could benefit so much from a tool like ChampionsID.com. Its not easy for them to stand out and find people to help them. When I see the young german kids, you are watching them and you see what kind of talent you have in front of you, but the most important is what you feel when you practice those kids. Only through this process you can further understand. But before this what ChampionsID.com can help with is to provide a verry good understanding of who those guys are.
CID: What are the most difficult parts about scouting and detecting young players? Do you believe that championsid can solve any of them? ( i.e. by reducing travel time )
SO: Yes tracking players is not easy. It requires a lot of time and money. I think that with ChampionsID.com you can solve this problem and help especially scouts and coaches with low budget to find new talent. It’s really worth being in the platform and invest time to search athletes.
CID: In your opinion, what are the qualities that make a good coach?
SO: Its complex. You have to be a great leader. In the court, outside of the court, in the locker rooms. Creating a great atmosphere for the entire team is also important for success. Also a coach is a guy who is responsible for the development of the guys he is coaching as players, as athletes but also their character as men. Like I like saying teaching Basketball is like teaching life. How you fight in the normal life has so many similarities with fighting in the court. Of course a great coach should be very good with tactic but sometimes its more important to be able to create a good team and a great atmosphere. Individual conversations with your players, team building activities, leadership, dedication to the work. At the end of the day this is a job like every other job. Through the years with experience things are getting btter. But also you need to improve yourself day by day.
CID: What advice would you give to the young coaches that are registered in our platform ?
SO: It’s not easy to give a message or advise. The only thing I did is to invest a lot of time and be patient. Waiting for the right opportunity, the story you do, step by step, the people around you. You have to be prepared and ready and have the right network of people who can help you in putting you in a good situation. Apart from that personal work, improving, learning, being a student of Basketball for all your life is key. I am counting 11 years of coaching career and I am still learning every day. Have to be involved in any opportunity for evolving. You should always be close to what happens around you. Watching the clinics, being around the people who can give you certain knowledge and of course how much time you spend in the court.
CID: Describe your off season training program. In which part do you spend most of your time? Tactics? Conditioning? Shooting?
SO: Its different when you are a pro vs what happens in the youth categories. In the top leagues, coaches and managers spend a lot of time in order to recruit new players and build the roster. They are not even there the entire time to train or prepare. Some people also believe nowadays that the preperation time before the season should be reduced because the real key is individual preparation. On that a great coach has to provide really detailed plans and give advice on how to improve and what to work on. For the young guys the most important thing is when the season is over. 2 weeks is maximum to have rest and then you should start working on your waeknsess individually. Taking care of your body to avoid injuries, working with an athletic coach to improve and evolve, because to my experience this period can really make a huge difference for a player.
CID: What are your best and worst memories in your coaching experience?
SO: The best memories are always when you win. Certain achievements like winning the championship in Ukraine. Being elected as the best coach in Germany, 3rd coach in Euroleague by my fellow coaches are things I am really proud of. In ALBA so many amazing memories throughout the years. On the other hand the worst momories I can remember is losing the finals vs Bayern Munich maybe also not finishing in the best position last year. But the good memories are more than the bad ones. I want to say here that even the bad ones are necessary for becoming who you are. Great memories are also seeing players that I coached since they were young, becoming great. Knowing that I helped them in my way to become great and succeed is something I am really proud of.
CID: Playing vs coaching. What do you prefer and why?
SO: Playing time is definitely the best time in your life. As much as you can play basketball you should do it. Time never comes back. However I also love coaching and there are so may things you do and you learn. Feeling important, leading a team. The results are coming from your hard work and decisions. On the other hand as a player you enjoy making decisions in the court, being in a team and normally you don’t have so many worries as the ones a coach has, no matter what is the result.