The Basketball Podcast: EP324 with Joan Plaza on Instilling Confidence

RELEASE DATE : 12/06/2024

In this week’s coaching conversation, Spanish professional basketball Joan Plaza joins the Basketball Podcast to share insights on modern coaching, instilling confidence and empowerment.

Joan Plaza is a Spanish professional basketball coach with an impressive track record. His coaching journey spans across various European teams, where he has consistently achieved success at the highest levels of the game. Plaza most recently was head coach of AEK in the Greek League and in the Basketball Champions League.

Plaza began his coaching career at the basketball school he co-founded, EB Betsaida, and worked with the women’s team EB Santísima Trinitat and the small club CB Sant Adriá. During the 2000–01 season, he led his team to victory in the Spanish Under-20 championship.

A veteran of 194 coaching appearances in the EuroLeague, spread between Zenit, Unicaja, Zalgiris, and Real Madrid. His most notable coaching stint was with Real Madrid, where he initially served as an assistant coach under Božidar Maljković. When Maljković departed, Plaza stepped up as the head coach. Under his leadership, Real Madrid achieved remarkable milestones, including thirteen consecutive Liga ACB wins and winning the ULEB Cup (now known as EuroCup) in the same season. Plaza was named the AEEB Coach of the Year.

Plaza’s coaching journey continued with other prominent teams including Cajasol Sevilla, Unicaja Malaga, where he secured his second EuroCup title in the 2016–17 season., Zenit Saint Petersburg, and Real Betis.

Joan Plaza

Listen Here:

Joan Plaza Quotes:

“From the beginning I understood that I need to be learning every day from the younger generation of coaches, from the older generations, from the people beside me. We know that right now big data holds a pretty big space in our job, too. I still need to be resetting and trying to learn how I can adapt to new information.”

“If I feel really fortunate, really privileged to be coaching, then I cannot save my information just for me.  Everybody who is coming to see my practices, they can come in, they can see the practices and walk-through. I give them the script of the practice.”

“I spend a lot of this recruiting time telling them the truth. I want the players to understand what we’re going to demand  of them . . how they are going to grow in our system. They need to know exactly . . Many of the players are coming because I have a pretty good average for players that grow into the next step for better teams in Europe or jumping to the NBA.”

“Here in Europe, we have only 50 seconds in a timeout. Even with this rule, I spent no less than 25 seconds talking with my assistant coaches to hear what they suggest for me to apply on offense or defense. I was one of the first in Europe to give my assistants this kind of responsibility. Not only in the games, also in our practices . . I am not the only one who has the truth.”

“I want that, for the majority of the practice, nobody hears my voice.  That means that my assistants have a big responsibility during the practice. We always arrive two or three hours before the practice and we define what we’re going to do.”

“I give a lot of responsibility to my assistants, also I give it to my players. It means that many times in our meetings, not only my assistant coaches have a voice, many times I ask it of the players. What’s their opinion about that game? What’s their opinion about this set? What’s their opinion about this structure?”

“We don’t try to create a Bible before every game, because the players are never going to use it. Let’s focus on asking them, ‘What do you think is better for you to focus on to put your mind on the game?’  And then if they need to see some kind of clips, if they need to read some kind of stats, we can adjust, like a menu for the players, the kind of information that is better for them to focus on before the games.”

“I said to the players, we cannot guarantee to everybody that we’re going to win every game, but we can guarantee everybody that we’re going to fight for every single ball. We’re going to fight so that, if we are losing by 20, we will try to lose by ten. And, if we are winning by ten, we will try to win by 20. Always stay ambitious, but stay humble. All these goals are on top of the pyramid. And then finally we bring this pyramid and we put it in the locker room.”

“I have three goals on defense, three goals on offense and three goals about how we need to focus on the game.”

“I put this sheet on the wall to remind them,  ‘What are our priorities?’ . . What I want to focus on is our strengths.  We want to try to impose our style on the game. And then, maybe the last thing is to remember what strengths or tools the opponent has. But the priority is to do better what we are practicing.”

Joan Plaza Breakdown:

1:00 – Coaching Youth Basketball

2:30 – Sharing Experiences

7:30 – Modern vs Traditional Coaching Methods

10:30 – Player Development and Communication

17:00 – Assistance in Decision Making

20:30 – Building Confidence

27:00 – Creating Strategy and Goals

31:00 – Time Management

36:00 – Coaching Methods

40:00 – Game Plan and Priorities

48:00 – Coaching Philosophy and Passion

Joan Plaza Selected Links from the Podcast:

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