Daniel James: “There are times when you question yourself, but the love of the game pushes me”

Daniel James
Photo: Daniel James Basketball

In an exclusive interview with TalkBasket.net, Daniel James referred to his job as skills development trainer and more.

Here is what Daniel said:

On his profession: “I am a skills development trainer, who focus on awareness of how the body moves. More specifically, I teach others how to move their body in relation to the skills being taught, making the moves more fluent and easier to understand.”

On the structure of the workout: “I build out, meaning I progress from close to the basket with simple focused moves and end with game specific sets or outside shooting. I want to see the levels of progression – I always start with ball handling. I help players make certain moves that connect with other moves. I am meticulous with what I do.”

On how he became a trainer: “I started playing basketball at 11. Later, I received a basketball scholarship, but I had a few injuries (three knee injuries) which naturally allowed me to see the game from the other side.

I moved out of basketball for three to four years, but I had close relationship with NBA coaches (Phil Handy of the Toronto Raptors and Chris Johnson – Jimmy Butler’s then personal trainer – ). This is how I started, I learned from them for two summer off-seasons as an assistant.

On the difficult aspects of his job: “It is a challenging job. You manage personalities and learn on the go. You try to keep relationships, but there are times when you question yourself.

But, the love of the game pushes me, while you have to have confidence. You have to re-invent yourself, assess your body of work, keep an open mind.

I want to become a professional coach. You have to be motivated and love what you do, though.”

On his tactics during the workout: “During the workout I play defence, try to show the players how they attack and how they guard their opponents.

I show them both cases and help them understand how these things work which in turn builds their basketball IQ.

You have to be patient and open to teaching. Let players know they can do it and they will figure it out, it’s basketball not rocket science.

Basketball is evolving. Everyone should learn to do multiple things on the court, because anything can happen. For instance teaching ‘big men’ ball handling and ‘guards’ post moves etc. It’s all important.”

On working with top class players: “I have worked with a lot of players (Tomas Satoransky, Luol Deng, Thomas Robinson, Jeremy Tyler etc.), of all positions.

You have to be really specific with what to work on because it needs to relate to what they do on the court (how they get paid).

A lot comes down to communication and the relationship between you and the player which will help them feel comfortable to reveal their weaknesses and be engaged when working to improve them.

Research is also key. You should come into the workout already knowing their weaknesses and how you would like to improve them then be adaptable in your approach.”

On his relationship with other coaches when working personally with professional players at their team: “The coach has their own opinion, yet some of them are not very open to collaboration and feedback. I don’t want to cross the line, it is about respecting the coach’s personality and working in alignment with their offenses and sets.”

On coach Giorgos Bartzokas (During Daniel’s time at Khimki with Thomas Robinson): “Giorgos Bartzokas is a really nice guy, great coach and very knowledgeable about basketball.

I learned from him. I respect him as a coach, but I was not there to cross the line, I focus on my job.”

Do you focus on injury prevention during workouts? “I definitely believe injury prevention is important and I focus on preventative exercises and different types of stretching during the warm up. Body maintenance is key.”

You can find out more about Daniel James in his professional website, Daniel James Basketball