The Basketball Podcast: EP43 Hanno Möttölä on Playing Style

RELEASE DATE : 29/05/2019

In this week’s basketball coaching conversation, Finnish basketball coach Hanno Möttölä joins the podcast to share ideas to help your program define its playing style. Möttölä shares ideas from his playing and coaching career, as a leading figure in Finnish basketball, to help us to better understand how to run a basketball program.

Möttölä has been with the Helsinki Basketball Academy’s as an assistant coach since 2012. In that role he assists with player development, player recruitment, NCAA recruiting and many other roles. He also currently serves as an assistant coach for the Finnish men’s A2 team.

As a player, Möttölä became the first Finnish player in the NBA when he played for the Atlanta Hawks, and the first Finn in the Euroleague. He helped lead Utah to the NCAA Final 4 in 1998 playing for Rick Majerus. He was also captain of the national team for 15 years appearing in one World Cup in 2014, and three European Championships (1995, 2011, 2013).


[On skipping fundamentals] “There’s a 3-point line with little kids early on everybody tries to heave a 3-point shot way before they have any kind of capacity to do it and that . . develops bad shooting mechanics.”

“It kind of goes back to skipping fundamentals. There is a danger that a lot of us coaches are in the same boat. We think that teaching tactical things develops great players.”

“You need to be smart to be able to execute a play but . . I think the coaches who play simpler at the junior level and really rely on fundamentals – passing, shooting, moving — . . they tend to produce more players.”

“Our identity was we try to be more aggressive on defense . . than everybody else . . we’re not the biggest, we’re not the most athletic but we can be the most aggressive team on defense.”

“We try to control the ball as early as possible . . we really try to set the tone with the on-ball defender.”

“You deny but you don’t turn your whole back to the ball . . steals don’t come by stealing, they come from positioning . . we want to disrupt the movement of the ball.”

“We hard show on every single player . . when they learn this aggressive style of defense, it’s a lot easier going to whatever program you’re going to next.”

“We have a weakside ‘I’ . . we do it pretty much on the basket line . . we have a very hard ball pressure . . the on-ball defender, that’s his job . . his hands have to take away the bullet pass [to the weakside].”

“It’s incredible, that with active, good hands, on-ball and four guys off that ball, what a difference it makes.”

“If you tell five 15-year olds . . to play zone, what’s the first thing they do? Everybody raises their hands . . then if you man-to-man, everybody has their hands down. So, if we can get man-to-man . . off-ball defenders to use their hands . . the court . . really shrinks in the eye of the ball handler.”

“We rely heavily on ball and player movement, and probably in that order. If there’s an open guy you pass to him . . we try to generate energy . . the more guys that get touches . . the more energy flows between players.”

“We try to play fast, we try to be aggressive . . make or miss we try to cross the half court by passing . . we want to establish a front rim runner every time.”

“One of the . . really good actions we ‘ve been using a lot . . after a post catch he takes a couple of really hard dribbles toward the middle . . and a full speed, downhill handoff with the guard on the top.”

“We don’t surprise anyone anymore . . but it’s hard to prepare for us in a couple of short days.”

“Their first taste of international basketball is with Lithuania . . a world class opponent . . and usually it’s a cruel wake-up call.”

“We believe that there is no reason why we can’t be the best at developing high school age kids in Europe . . we can find excuses but there’s no reason why we can’t be the best.”

“We really try to create positionless players so we can have 1 through 4 running ball screens . . it’s great having positionless players on offense but it might be even more valuable to have a positionless player on defense.”

“We came up with a saying, ‘Every day is a game day.’ If you approach every [practice] as if it’s a game day, I think players are going to enjoy that.”

Click below to listen in if you listen on:

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1:00 – Introduction
3:00 – Story of Lauri Markkanen
5:00 – Skipping Fundamentals
6:40 – Steph Curry Effect
10:00 – Working on Lauri’s Shooting Form
13:00 – Concept and Process of Brad Steven
15:30 – Finland Basketball
18:00 – Big Mobile Big Guys
19:30 – Controlling The Ball
20:40 – Ball’s in The Deny Trailer
23:00 – Forcing Offense to Run Higher
24:10 – Needing a Game Plan for Denial
27:00 – Weak Side Eye
30:00 – Aggressive on the Ball
31:00 – Defending the Post
32:00 – Fronting the Post
35:00 – Transitioning to Offense
37:00 – Unselfish Society
38:00 – Running Ball Screen All The Time
40:00 – Set Plays
42:00 – Cutting Players
44:00 – Implementing Offense
45:00 – Synergy of the Game
47:00 – Lithuania
49:00 – Finland National Team
51:00 – Strategy
55:00 – Final Words

Hanno Möttölä:



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