Valery Lunichkin is the Russian Basketball Federation Coaches Council Chairman and Head Coach of the Olympic Youth Training Center.
Former head coach of the Russian Senior Women’s National teams, he won two European Championships (1978 and 1989) and one Olympic Games (1980).
With the Junior national team he won three European Championships (1986, 1988, and 2000), while with the Young Women’s team he won a silver Medal at the 2002 European Championship. He was lecturer at many international coaches clinics.
The Russian Women’s Youth Basketball Program is designed to teach two important aspects, one is the organizational skills and the other focusing on the technical skills. We achieve these aims in the following manner.
1. Specialized training camps for young players are organized:
- Specialized “big man” camps are organized.
- Special attention is devoted to each position, shooting guard, point guard, power forward, small forward, and center.
- Special attention is given to one aspect of the game, such as defense.
2. Competitions are arranged:
- School-level competitions
- Regional competitions
- Youth Basketball League competitions
3. National Teams:
- Cadets & Cadettes
- Junior Men & Women
- Young Men & Women
To have our players progress in a logical fashion, we follow these important steps:
- Optimal intensification
- Athletic conditioning for years to last
- Variable tactical preparation
- Uninterrupted playing preparation
- Step-by-step individualization
Intensification is now a major trend in modern sport training. It is used in basketball to:
- increase the player’s movements per time unit
- decrease the time interval needed to perform certain technical movements
- increase the speed and velocity of tactical interactions
In order to increase the skills and physical conditioning of our young female basketball players, we use the following methods:
- Young players 9-12 years old: The intensification of performance through special exercises that will prepare them to play and compete.
- Young players 13-15 years old: Intensify exercises and drills and decrease the work volume.
- Young players 16-17 years old and young women 18-20 years old: The intensification of practicing with a special program.
LONG-TERM ATHLETIC PREPARATION
The athletic conditioning of young women’s players is a decisive factor in helping to create talented senior players years later.
This only comes after long-term athletic refinement.
Within the category 9-12 years old players, athletic conditioning is a complex one, with all physical skills being trained at the same time.
Games involving movement, running, gymnastics, and acrobatics are used to reach our aims.
At the 13-15 years old level, conditioning is slightly different, with emphasis placed on specific physical qualities, and more training time is spent on enhancing a player’s weaker physical skills.
At this stage strength-training exercises are introduced, using light weights to help build upper-body and leg strength.
At the 16-17 and 18-20 years old levels, conditioning is geared specifically towards on-court improvement.
Sprinting and distance running exercises are used to develop optimal cardiovascular strength.
Weight-training exercises are introduced to develop quick, explosive power.
VARIABLE TACTICAL PREPARATION
To increase the level of tactical preparedness we work on the development of individual skills and the improvements in team play.
Here are the specific aims for various age groups:
- Young players 9-12 years old: Improving the motor components of reactions and the shortening of reaction time with special games of movements.
- Young players13-15 years old: Developing the operative mind with special creative games and algorithmic tasks, and working on team tactics.
- Young players 16-17 years old and 18-20 years old: Improving the tactical mind with specific practice sessions.
UNINTERRUPTED PLAYING PREPARATION
In the learning process the modern psychophysiology says that one of the most important aspects is that “the game is a natural need of the child’s body”.
What we call the “uninterrupted playing preparation” is based upon the method of playing and competing and the method of changing conditions on tactical and technical drills.
For young players 9 to 12 years old the use of games for learning is accented. Games of movements and relay-races are permanently included into the training process.
For young players 13 - 15 years old drills where they play are regularly used and we change the conditions of the drills and the practice.
For young players 16-17 and young women 18-20 years old we run systematically mini tournaments (1 on 1, 2 on 2, 3 on 3) in all the stages of work. Also, for these last two ages categories it’s very important to keep a good competitive level.
IMPROVING PLAYERS INDIVIDUAL SKILLS
“Individualization” is the work for improving the individual skills, based on individual characteristics. We follow these methods for reaching the aim:
- Young players 9-12 years old: The individualization of the learning process by implementing the technical and tactical basketball fundamentals.
- Young players 13-15 years old: The individualization at group level (the players are divided by positions) and the individual approach working on the shortcomings.
- Young players 16-17 years old and young women 18-20 years old: The very accurate individualization by working on defining their best sport skills and on improving their less skilled characteristics.
In the training and learning work this type of individualization is implemented through the special highly individual exercises, always using the pedagogical criteria.