In this week’s coaching conversation, Canadian Women’s National Team head coach Lisa Thomaidis joins the Basketball Podcast to discuss driving success by building team identity. In addition to being the national team head coach, Coach Thomaidis is also in her 21st year as head coach of the University of Saskatchewan Huskies.
Coach Thomaidis Five-time Canada West Coach of the Year and two-time U SPORTS Coach of the Year
During her tenure at the U of S, the Huskies have won the 2016 CIS National Championship, six Canada West titles, (2019, 2017, 2016, 2013, 2011, 2006), and have qualified for the U SPORTS Final 8 in 10 of the last 11 seasons.
In 2013, Thomaidis was appointed the Head Coach of the Canadian Women’s National Team. Since that time, Lisa has coached the Team to a 7th place finish at the Rio Olympics in 2016, a Pan Am Gold Medal (which was the first-ever Gold Medal in Basketball at the PanAms) and FIBA Americas Gold Medal in 2015, a 5th place finish at the 2018 FIBA World Championships in Turkey in 2014, a 7th place finish at the 2018 FIBA World Cup and a silver medal at the FIBA Americas Championships in Mexico in 2013.
In the summer of 2012, Thomaidis was an Assistant Coach with the Women’s National Team at the London Olympics. There, the team made a dramatic run to the Quarter-Finals, before falling to the USA, the eventual gold medallists.
Her five Canada West Coach of the Year awards came in 2004, 2006, 2009 ,2011 and 2016. She was also inducted into the McMaster University Hall of Fame in October 2006. In 2008-09, she became the first women’s basketball coach at the UofS to be named the CIS Coach of the Year and won the award again in 2010-11. She was also named a YWCA Woman of Distinction in 2009 and Recipient of the CAAWS Women of Influence Award on two occasions.
“Our three words are ‘dynamic,’ ‘relentless’ and ‘together.’ . . What we’re trying to do is make sure those words permeate everything that we do and how we do things.”
[On having a team identity] “It’s always something you can look back upon. You can evaluate your performance . . Did we live these words today? Did we live our identity? And if we didn’t, where are the shortcomings and where were the gaps?”
“We’re constantly bringing in different athletes . . Having that style of play that’s consistent, that our athletes know what is expected . . I think it’s really helpful.”
“It could get to a point where you recruit that way . . for a lot of our athletes who get to the stage where they’re senior national team prospects, they possess a lot of these pieces already.”
“The magic comes with how you take that and how you make that your team identity and how you mold those individuals into that identity that we want to see and that we believe is going to produce a medal-worthy standard.”
“We highlight when we see things in practice that exemplify ‘relentless,’ or ‘dynamic’ or ‘together’ to really reinforce it. It’s always there. We’re living it.”
“You always have those anchors you can come back to with the scout and with the preparation.”
[On scouting] “Our players will all receive the video ahead of time, they’ll get it the night before. There will be a main video piece . . that’s less than 10 minutes long and then there will be a supplemental video.”
“A lot of times, it’s really just pointing out what is unique or what is different or special to this team that we have to be particularly aware of.”
“The paper scout . . is also given out in advance . . at the top will be our three identity pieces and . . the keys to the game and how they relate to those identity pieces.”
“The last piece [of the scout] . . is what are we going to do against this team? What are we going to do to exploit our advantages and what’s that going to look like?”
“What they really want is they want to know what that one person’s go-to move is and they want to see it on film.”
“We’re always wanting to get feedback from the athletes . . we debrief practices and want to hear from them . . are we making progress in the areas we talked about?”
“Your players . . have to be the ones to solve the problems and you have to let them play through it and you have to be okay with some errors and mistakes . . We constantly say that’s how you learn . . to be forced to solve a problem by yourself.”
Selected Links from the Podcast:
1:00 – Words that defining Team Identity
3:00 – Advantage of having an Identity
5:00 – What Practice Look Like if you have Team Identity
6:00 – Faster Pace of Change
9:00 – Recruit on the Identity
10:30 – How Team Identity Works with her Scouts
11:30 – Approaching Scout in the Moments Before the Game
16:00 – Feedbacks
18:00 – Team Meetings and Energizers for the Team
22:00 – Other Things to Engage These Athletes
24:00 – Strength From The Diversity of the Staff
27:00 – On-Court Pre Game Warm-Up
30:00 – Halftime
31:30 – Watching Team Pre Warm-Ups
36:00 – Ready Sheets
39:00 – Overly Tactical As a Coach
42:00 – 14-Second Shot Clock
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