The Perfect Play: CCGS Basketball Coach Scores a Slam Dunk

Mr John Gunderson, CCGS Boys Basketball Convener/Coach, was recently granted a professional development experience by CCGS to travel to the US and coach high-level basketball players from all over Australia.

We sat down with Mr Gunderson to ask him about his experience and what it was like being part of this program as a coach.

What was part of your professional development experience with AUSA Hoops and why did you choose to take part?

Well, basketball is one of the fastest-growing sports in Australia and there is significant demand in many facets of the game to help kids and parents in many ways. This program of sending Australian coaches over to the US started around 2013 so I knew about how great it was and knew I wanted to be part of it.

The overall experience was like a reawakening for me. It was invigorating to be around other well-respected coaches from all over Australia and numerous US college coaches and be inspired by their coaching techniques.

The whole program was about networking, and we were encouraged to sit with other coaches during games. You learn so much just by talking to someone and watching them in action. You get to know them and how they navigate and build their own school programs.

What was involved when you were overseas?

We had 86 Australian students with us from all over the country who had never experienced elite training and gameplay before at that level. We were playing with US college students and competing with college coaches, and you get to see firsthand the talent at a global level. My role as coach was to instil in the players the calibre of practice, training, and playing required and what it is like being mentally prepared for the journey of being an elite player and playing in the US.

John Gunderson Coaching
John Gunderson coaching in the US.
How will your learnings from your experience enhance the CCGS student experience?

The higher you go there is this idea that you need to make your plays more complicated, but that does not make for better play and coaching. At a school level many of the kids are not full-time basketball players, so you need to be effective. The notion, even from these top-level coaches, is to keep it simple and bring it back to the basics and get really good in this space. I picked up a simple offence that I think our kids could run this year.

The purpose of my going over as a coach was the benefit of networking with top coaches from across the country and seeing game strategies, play-by-plays, and their philosophy to enhance their school program. You can only get better and doing this allowed me to refocus.

The more networking you have the more it creates opportunities to grow and be supported. By being part of this experience I have more ability to enhance what we can bring to our CCGS basketball students at any player level.

In the last 10 years CCGS has had a number of state players at the school and for me just to be able to network past NSW to national coaches as well will be a real benefit for our kids.

John Gunderson
John Gunderson
What was the most memorable moment of your experience?

One day there were two guys watching from the grandstands who I recognised as kids I coached back in 2004 when I taught in the US, and now they were there watching our Australian kids play and me coach again - that was a big highlight for me.