Igor Jukic is the Professor at the Faculty of Kinesiology at the University of Zagreb, Croatia, and works for the Croatian Basketball Association.
First sport in which physical conditioning coaches started to work in Croatia was basketball. This happened in Seventies of last century. In ex- Yugoslavia, Croatian physical conditionig coaches were dominantly involved in preparedness of national teams. Did you know that Kresimir Cosic and Drazen Petrovic had already their private physical conditioning coaches in the Seventies or Eighties? Same practice continued until today with Toni Kukoc, Dino Radja, Stojko Vrankovic, Gordan Giricek, Bruno Sundov, Dalibor Bagaric, all former or active NBA players.
Today, each of all 10 national basketball teams has own physical conditioning coach. Croatian physical conditioning coaches are not only involved in preparedness for international competitions. They follow players during all year, they are making diagnostics, training programs, nutrition plans etc. Five years ago we started to make database with tests results of physical conditioning abilities for all age groups and both sexes.
We also have many private physical conditioning coaches which have great contribution in basketball. It seems now that individualisation of physical conditioning preparedness will mark near future of sport preparedness.
EDUCATION OF PHYSICAL CONDITIONING COACHES
Education system of physical conditioning coaches is especially important. In Croatia, until 1999, physical conditioning coaches were persons which were educated on Faculty for Kinesiology. They were professors of physical education with specializations in particular sports. In 1999, under the program of the same study started specialization in physical conditioning preparedness. This study lasts 8 semesters. Until 2001, we have 5 semesters study for physical conditioning coaches.
PHYSICAL CONDITIONING COACHES ASSOCIATION
In November 2002, in Zagreb, was founded Croatian Physical Conditioning Coaches Association. Every physical conditioning coach from any sport can find a role in this association. The primary aim of this association is to protect rights of physical conditioning coaches and to help their improvement following world trends. The members of association can only be the persons who were educated as physical conditioning coaches. Temporary members can be the persons who hasn’t finished education yet.
Under the program of this Association a physical conditioning training magazine is to be promoted and this will be a magazine with international review.
One of the most important tasks of this Association is cooperating with similar organisations in the world and especially in Europe.
Physical conditioning preparation in basketball is very important factor for making grate results. Demanding basketball games from one side and development of sport science from the other, made contribution to greater popularity of physical conditioning preparation and physical conditioning coaches in basketball.
We have to conclude that physical conditioning and physical readiness are not the only and crucial factors for getting great sport results. Physical conditioning training can give strong base for specific and situational basketball addition but the main reason in eral competition conditions for winning will be technical and tactical baskeball knowledge and skils, beside other, on optimal level of functional and motoric abilities.
Twenty-thirty years ago national teams from our area has history of bad results after coming from USA. They rarely lost any game with less then 30 points differences. Just to remind you players who were playing than were: Cosic, Dalipagic, Delibasic, Jerkov, Kicanovic, Slavnic etc. Those players were dominated in world amateur basketball, but they were not able to come even close to NBA players. Today, from same area of the ex- Yugoslavia 16 players (Serbia and Montenegro 9, Croatia 4, Slovenia 3) are playing in NBA.
One of the most important reasons why they actually managed to play in NBA is physical conditioning. Their basketball talent was never questionable.