Coach Olson to lead Basketball Scotland
Coach Erik Olson has been hired by Basketball Scotland as the new Men’s National Performance Coach.
Olson’s role will see him work with those players who have the potential to play at the Commonwealth Games and those who have long term potential to represent Scotland and Great Britain. He will also be responsible for working with coaches and clubs to buy into a system to support personal and team development as well as work with BBL outfit Glasgow Rocks.
Olson has been involved with DENGTOP50 in two of the three years since it’s been running where we caught up with him to find out more about his new role to really help UK basketball.
How did this role come about?
As I entered this past off-season, I had the great experience of working with the USA u18 select team that competed in the Albert Schweitzer world championship tournament in Mannheim, Germany, along with fellow DENGTOP50 staff member Joe Mantegna. While at this tournament, I began to network and started to open my options towards making a move out of the Icelandic top division where I spent the past 4 seasons coaching, where I also worked closely with the national team program including serving as the assistant coach for the U20 team that earned promotion into the EURO A division this past summer. Early along in the process of opening my options towards making a move, I started to hear about the new role with Basketball Scotland which included a close partnership with the Glasgow Rocks and immediately became interested in the position because of its great challenge, but also the added experience I would gain as a national team head coach. After a thorough and challenging interview process, I became more and more interested in the opportunity and was eventually offered the position on a 2-year contract.
What are your short and long term goals whilst in the role?
The short term goals of the national team position are this; We immediately want to identify players that have the potential growth trajectory to be professional talents, and international talents for the Scotland and GB teams, and after we identify these players we will aim to give them more hands on coaching and access to our Sport Scotland strength and conditioning coaches, nutritionists and physical therapists in order to ensure that not only are these young players given everything they need to develop off the court, but also will be given individualised and personal attention on the floor, something I will have a hand in, directly leading these training sessions.
Our long term goals are multi faceted, ideally we will be able to incorporate more of European club approach to our training program, meaning that we can identify these players early, and include them into our BBL program with the Glasgow Rocks, to give future players the challenging club system that will push them to their maximum while also continuing our individualized program, allowing each player to have the best of both the club system and individual training program. The long-term goal of the Senior National Team is simply to put ourselves in a great position to qualify for the Commonwealth Games in Australia in 2018, in order to do so, we must strengthen our talent pool while also putting together a competitive schedule of opponents, and finally put together results against quality competition.
What are you most looking forward to in the role?
Mostly I am looking forward to the challenge, and in gaining experience on the international stage. Through the past years I have had the privilege of working in the Icelandic National team system and have learned greatly from this, in the sense that the margin of error is too small to waste resources, and the objective is to work as smartly as we can in order to maximise what we have in terms of talent and program development. Secondly, to be able to make a long-term impact on the sport in a country where the game is growing in popularity each day is an honour. I hope to not only work with our clubs to strengthen their overall talent pools, but to also give our elite players a platform to which they can grow and achieve on the world stage.
How did the Glasgow Rocks role come into play and how much did this help your decision?
Having a major role with the Glasgow Rocks as the Associate Head Coach is a major bonus to the position, and a partnership that I was extremely excited about as soon as I became aware of the job posting. I have been fortunate in my career to have been successful as a Head Coach professionally in Australia and Iceland, and the Rocks partnership allows me to have an impact daily with the organisation, while also helping to grow the game overall in Scotland. In my opinion the Rocks are one of the premier programs in the BBL as far as facilities, sponsorship and support around the club and its an organisation that I feel should regularly be competing for championships, so to step in and have access to all of this gives hope that we can really be cutting edge in our training methods as time goes on, and work to develop our young talent pool while also being extremely professional in our scouting and game planning thru this season, while playing against very high quality teams.
What impact do you want to have and feel you can bring to Basketball Scotland?
I have come into this position with multiple goals, both short term and long-term, and more then anything I want to be able to make a lasting impression and effect on the game in Scotland. I do not see this job as an overnight success story, but as something that we need to identify where we currently are, and be able to continually take steps forward thru our training process. I believe the Senior national team has everything that we need to qualify for the Commonwealth games, which would be a huge honour for our players and coaching staff, and this is exactly the type of impact that we need in order to leave a lasting effect on the development of our sport in Scotland. I hope to bring a level of professionalism to the table, being fortunate enough to have had success around Europe, Australia and the United States as a head coach, I hope to immediately be able to build off the groundwork already put in place by the staff at Basketball Scotland while taking the lead as we enter the qualification process into the commonwealth games.
From everyone at DENGTOP50, we want to wish Erik all the best in his new role and excited to what he can bring to the future of UK basketball.