Over the course of the 2016/17 season, we’ll be bringing you a series of interviews with volunteers from around the club, shining a light on the various roles required to keep Ipswich Basketball running smoothly. This time, it’s the turn of Adam Robinson, who is finding his role around IBC rapidly expanding from his initial involvement with just one player…
IpswichBasketball.net: How did you first get involved with Ipswich Basketball Club?
Adam Robinson: I worked as a strength and conditioning coach for Sam Newman, who is a good friend’s son, who played for IBC and was based at the academy here. I’ve known Nick Drane for years, but having worked with Sam we came back into contact, and it so happened that IBA was looking for a person with my qualifications, so having worked with Sam it made an easy transition after that.
IB: Have you been involved with basketball much in the past, or is this your first foray?
AR: I played a lot as a junior, between the ages of 13 and 19, but stopped half-way through university to prioritise some other sports. This is the first time I’ve worked in basketball but I’ve been working with high-level athletes for a long time, in tennis, squash, rugby and other sports, as a strength and conditioning coach.
So I’ve coached high-level athletes before but in a gym setting.
IB: How are you finding the transition to coaching a ‘team setting’, dealing with strategy and so on?
AR: Challenging, but I am really enjoying it. I am used to teaching groups, but it’s nice to actually have to coach something that is relatively new to me, but also that has a different goal – when you’re working in a gym it’s essentially trying to get a physical improvement, whereas within basketball it’s trying to win games and build a team. It’s a nice challenge.
IB: You’ve become a part of the Academy coaching staff now, including travelling with the team during last season’s Playoffs, and this season you’ve stepped into the role of under-18 head coach. Does that feel like it’s all come about quite quickly?
AR: Yes, but I think it’s been a comfortable transition. I’ve been working with the girls I’m currently coaching for over a year now, so that’s made the transition easier. It was quite logical given I work with most of the players on a daily basis at IBA.
I have a very hard task to follow, in that I’m essentially the weekend coach for Nick Drane’s academy team, but again I think my work as an assistant during the week has made that easier. I’m getting a lot of enjoyment out of it.
IB: You’ve certainly started with some impressive results…
AR: The girls have been really, really good. I think it helps that they play on a Wednesday in the WEABL which is probably, as with on the boys’ side of things, the best junior league available. That’s not to say that BE Under-18s is a drop in standard, because a lot of the teams in the two leagues are the same players, but I’m working with girls who essentially prepare and train every day, so to be honest I think all the credit goes to the girls, rather than me.
I’m very impressed that they have consistently applied themselves in the same manner on the weekends as they do during the week.
IB: Have you started thinking about setting any goals for your squad this season or is that not your style?
AR: I think it’s far too early, and it’s very difficult because our goal is an Academy goal, which is to get as far as we can in that tournament. If we can do well at the weekend, I think that is an added bonus. I’d expect us to at least challenge for high playoff spots, but we need to keep our goals focused on Wednesday then whatever happens at the weekend is icing on the cake, really.
IB: Getting back to the ‘day job’, if you like – do you think the importance of strength and conditioning is properly acknowledged, in basketball in particular and in youth sports in general?
AR: In basketball in particular, it is certainly getting there, particularly with the introduction of the elite academies. All the elite academies have to have an S&C coach in place.
The prevalence of it in youth sport in general is nowhere near where it should be. I think there are still a lot of stigmas around whether young athletes should be allowed to train in a gym environment, or do what we would call resistance or strength training. My answer would be that they certainly should, and hundreds of articles of scientific research would back that up.
It clearly helps prevent injury, and can help improve a player’s performance, so I think basketball is doing very well to try to introduce it, and hopefully it filters down from the elite junior level to the younger age groups.
That’s probably what my aim is at Ipswich Basketball Club – the aim is what we’re doing with the Academy, I have started to introduce that to the younger age groups.
IB: What are the potential dangers of a young athlete not warming up or cooling down properly, and what advice do you give to IBC’s youngsters?
AR: The warm-up is there to prepare an athlete for competition, so it has to be progressive and done properly. I could go on for hours about this, but a warm-up is incredibly important. It can, if not done properly, result in decreased performance and possibly injuries, if you’re talking about stretching in particular.
Basketball is a really fast-paced sport, so the warm-up has to build athletes up to the level at which they are about to perform, to go from nothing to a sport that involves lots of high-intensity and high-pace movements. So as much as it’s incredibly important to warm up, it’s also incredibly important to warm up properly. Hopefully I can help to educate not just players at IBC, but also coaches and volunteers, how to warm up effectively.