I had a very great interview with former Head-Coach Pascal Meurs of Musel Pikes. He is always focused to achieve the goals for the season, with an eye on the long term-perspective with integration of young talent. He likes to work in a real team orientated organization who wants to make a step forward.
The young Belgium coach shares some thoughts on coaching, and talked about a number of things including the dedication and passion it requires.
This Eurobasket.com, in-depth interview offers insight into Pascal Meurs ‘ basketball heart and soul.
How did you get into coaching
At the age of 18, I played for the 1st Div team of Bree as a youngster. Since I didn’t have the physical abilities to make it as a pro player, my parents made me focus on my studies,
which finally resulted in a Phd in mathematics. The advantage of this background towards basketball is without a doubt my analytical mind and a certain professional security.
During my Phd, however, I noticed that basketball is my true passion and I started to coach a team and get my first coaching qualifications.
The last couple of years, this passion has kept on growing.
What interested you in coaching?
The diversity into the job of coaching and the complexity of the game of basketball always attracted me. Coaching basketball means finding the balance between individual and team aspects, splitting gym time over improving technical abilities and working tactical options, focusing on both the physical and mental game, acting as a trainer,coach, psychologue and as well as a people manager. On top of that, the impact of the coaches decisions during a game of basketball is maybe the biggest of all sports.
What is the biggest adjustment between playing and coaching for you?
The biggest adjustment is the responsability you have as a coach over the whole team, including the players on the bench as your whole staff. As a player, one should be concerned about the things one can do to help team the best, on and off court. As a coach, one tries to bring every member of the team and staff into situations where they can attribute the most to the success of the team.
Did you always know you could succeed at this level, or was it something you had to prove to yourself?
When I really want to go for a certain goal, I will do everything to reach that goal, and I expect to reach it. As a coach, for sure without having a well-known name as a former player,
I had and have to prove myself on every new level. My coaching career thus far shows a logic evolution from youth teams, over the director of a whole youth program of a Euroleague club, into coaching at the highest level in Belgium (women), France (women) and most recently Luxemburg (men). The fact of not skipping any steps in this evolution is certainly a strength and makes me a more complete coach.
How do you as a coaching staff find time for player development during a busy season, when you’re focused on competing as a top team? Do you carve up the roster as a coaching staff, where somebody handle bigs and somebody handle guards?
This all depends on the circumstances, among others on your staff and gym time. A coach should be creative, also in organising the practices. I strongly believe that in every situation, a coach always can find a solution to do something extra to make the team or some individuals progress. As he does on the court with his players, a coach should also bring his staff into the position where he can attribute the best to the team. When a coach arrives with a new team, he also has to look for the strenghts and weaknesses of his team and build a playbook for it. The same is true in determing the role of each staff member. Coaching is about giving opportunities in which people can shine.
Do you individually work with particular players more than others?
It is clear that every individual on a team needs a unique approach. If you compare a 35-year old captain with a 20-year old rookie on the team, it is not unusual that you have a lot of conversations with the first one, and that on the other hand you try to have some individual work-outs on the court with the second one.
Do you have a coaching philosophy yet, or is it a work in progress for a lifetime?
Despite my young age, I’ve had the chance to interact and collaborate internationally with many coaches and philosophies, going from my FIBA Europe Coaching Certificate (FECC), my apprenticeship in NCAA basketball, my work as a FIBA-instructor inside and outside Europe and my professional basketball jobs in three different countries.
All these experiences together make that I have already my vision upon the game of basketball which you translate into long-term (plan for 2-3 years of a club) and short-term (one practice) building blocks to work within this consistent philosophy.
Where do you see yourself in the next 2-3 years? What are your immediate and long-term goals?
I never hide the fact that I’m very ambitious and want to aim for the highest level. On the other hand, I realize that I am still young as a coach (35 year) and I don’t want to skip any steps. After 12 succesfull months in the Total men’s League in Luxemburg, I’m open to a new challenge for the upcoming season.
Like I did every of the past several years, I want to make once again a logic progression in my career. Regularly, I realise how blessed I am in being able to convert my passion into my daily job. Allthough my perfectionistic character never is completely satisfied and wants me to aim higher.