A life in the day: Manuel Pena Garces, head coach EBL 1 and technical director of the Reading Rockets men’s basketball team.

By Cecilia M.

I live in Oxford. When I wake up I have a shower and I have breakfast at 8 AM with my girlfriend Lorena. We have home-made bread and I drink a hot chocolate while we watch Everybody Loves Raymond.

My routine is o20141115_163654rganised weekly. If I have morning training, I drop Lorena at Oxford University, where she is studying for a doctorate, and then I go to the club in Reading or Henley. If not, I stay in all morning watching videos of recent games. I analyse rivals, our actions and defence. During working sessions I will discuss this with the team and show them the videos.

Generally I eat out. Sometimes with my girlfriend in Oxford, sometimes with my colleagues from the club. When I eat on my own I am on the phone or connected to the internet, coordinating training, physiotherapy sessions and logistics. When I finish my meal I have an espresso.

What was a passion all my life is now my job. It is a great satisfaction to wake up in the morning knowing I will enjoy my work. However, sometimes I find it hard to disconnect. During the season I get my adrenaline pumping and it is hard to get a work-life balance.

Last year we were National Cup champions, the National Trophy winners and we took the the regular league title. We were sub-champions of the play-offs. We would like to see ourselves in the British Basketball League at a professional level in the near future. In order to achieve this we will need to buy a franchise. We are working hard at getting more sponsors. We are also promoting an exchange of players from our academies with some universities in Spain.

Usually we train every evening. We meet one hour before with the team, at around 7pm. On some days we do more technical work. On others, it is tactical training and physical conditioning.

Every so often you ask a player to follow an attacking strategy, but it’s him who will receive an elbow strike in their face or their chest. Frequently managing emotions is more important than managing tactics or technical elements. Whenever there is tension within the team it is necessary to remind them that the rivals are the guys in the other team shirts.

Again and again it is all about motivating people rather than showing just great knowledge. This is essential when I am giving courses for the Spanish Basketball Federation, where I have NBA, ACB or Euroleague players as students.

I was born in Castellon, Spain. I studied Industrial Engineering while playing semi-professional basketball and taking courses with the Spanish Basketball Federation. Unfortunately, I injured my shoulder, which led to an operation. Once in London I started to realise that my shoulder was limiting my performance. It wasn’t until the Spanish Basketball Federation asked me to collaborate with them that I decided I wanted to be a coach.

I finish training at 10 PM. Then I drive back home listening to U2 or Coldplay. Once there, I have a shower and put my slippers on. I watch Big Bang Theory or a Spanish debating programme on TV with Lorena.

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