As part of UK Coaching’s Coaching Week, Creon Raftopolous tells us about his coaching philosophy and his own coaching MVP…
How would you describe your coaching philosophy?
I’ve always based my coaching philosophy on improving the player as an individual, because if the player understands the game the way the game is supposed to be played you end up with a whole team of guys that understand how the game is played correctly.
What do you think makes a good coach?
I think the key things for a coach in this modern day very much comes with understanding of the players. I feel that players nowadays feel a lot more entitled, which was very different to the past. So I think it’s a coach has got to have the patience and understanding of the modern day athlete.
In that, is it as much about man management as player management?
Definitely I would say that man management becomes very much part of it. If you get a player that wants to play for you, they’ll run through brick walls. If you don’t man-manage that player properly they’re not going to give you their all. I think the man management part becomes very important.
Is there a secret to good man-management? The cliché goes that some players need the arm around the shoulder others need a kick up the backside.
Very much so. Every single player is unique and different in their own ways. There are some players who you can go at very hard, shout at them in front of people; and the other players that you sometimes just have to put your arm around their shoulder and speak to them. So it’s a big time balancing game and that’s where I think like trying to understand each individual and how they react to do in different situations becomes so important.
Is there one coach who has influenced you throughout your career, and what was it made that them stand out?
I think there’s a number of coaches that I could say or people that have had a big influence on me and my coaching career probably at this point make reference to a very good coach who I sadly lost last season, Tony Hanson. Tony came from the University of Connecticut in America and was drafted into the NBA by New Orleans Jazz. He gave me my break in England (with the Tees Valley Mohawks) and I always remember the one thing that he said to me, was always trying to find the good in the players rather than the things that they’re not good at. And if you can improve the good things they’re good at they’re only going to get better at that and then you can always work on that on the other stuff. So that’s kind of like stuck with me trying to find the good in players rather than look for all the negatives.