Interview with Carsten Steiner (05.10.2005)

Between two training sessions Carsten found the time to grant us an interview for our homepage. We already indicated some of the biographical details before, but Carsten’s record remains quite impressive. After his 14 years as a player in Bayreuth he remained with his club and coached various teams from 85 to 91. This led him on to Viernheim, Chemnitz and Berlin where he coached teams at Alba and Lichterfelde. Further stages were Maxdorf, Speyer and Leimen with additional coaching within the national training staff of the DBB from 1995 to 2005. Carsten was headcoach of the ladies’ U18 and U20 teams of the DBB all the time perfecting his skills with training sessions in the US.
What was the most rewarding experience with your U18 and U20 teams ?
During the qualifying campaign of the 2000 European Championship we came 7th overall, and we were the only team to beat Russia, the winner of that championship.
What favoured your decision to accept the headcoach position with our club ?
Well, actually the first contacts came through the ususal channels – advertising in magazines and all that – but T71 was looking for a coach with a specific profile, a keen interest in bringing young players to the fore in particular. I obviously checked the club before accepting the offer, but T71 appears to have the structures I had in mind.
Did you get the training facilities and units you asked for ?
Yes, there are no complaints here. Work for T71 is a full-time job, what with four training sessions per team, the individual training units and a thorough fitness training. All this preparation and four games at the weekend make a full week, thank you very much.
Where do you see the weaknesses in the Luxembourg system ?
Well, you are probably aware of some of them yourselves. The sports infrastructures may be there but the players cannot profit from them because of the constraints of the schooling system – at secondary and university level. This makes planning at club level a very difficult job indeed.
Does the sports calendar seem adequate to you ?
Well, I obviously lack a long-time experience, but from what I saw this year there appears to be a major problem at the national and club level. To me it seems ludicrous to have your players travelling to all possible destinations in Europe and then to have to start their national championship immediately afterwards. Two weeks to prepare a championship are definitely not good enough, not to mention the health risks run by the players.
Speaking of our players, what do you make of their dedication to the job ?
I must say that I was quite impressed, bearing in mind what I said just now about the availability of my players. They are quite ready to produce the effort we ask of them, but I am afraid this can play on trick on them in the long run. The hype attached to basketball in the media has some fifteen teams (top teams in two leagues) trying to compete for the top positions and the same players having to deliver. The obsession of some of the media with top scorers puts a strain on the players that I could do without. Basketball is a team sport, integration of all players is essential. But I must say that my players impress me, bearing in mind that only a handful can make a living out of their sport.
Do you see any improvements to the image of basketball in the country ?
There is an obvious lack of interest in the games of the national teams. On the one hand we seem to be short of international competition, on the other we know that large FIBA tournaments can only be organized with professional teams.
Are you happy with the recruiting and scouting policy in the country ?
This is something I have problems getting to grasps with. The restrictions built into the national recruiting system are ludicrous, not to say illegal. The way you recruit your (mainly) American players is very strange indeed, I simply cannot agree with the hire and fire attitude I discovered here.
What makes the Carsten Steiner method different ?
Well, I did not invent anything here. I must say that I was quite impressed by the results achieve by eastern European (and ex-GDR) teams - fully aware of the special medical attention some sportsmen were given. Scouting, hard work and good organization seem to me essential ; whether they can be achieved here is another matter. Teams have to be coordinated and players have to be respected. This is also critical for one of my major concers : the burn-out syndrome with young players in particular. Too many fixtures, especially in the summer, take their toll.
Could you detail that a little further ?
In Luxembourg players may be requested to play in every single competition – championship, cup etc – and there is a possibility for the same players to compete at the top, win along the whole line, and all this in sequence, with no breaks in-between. This is where I see the burn-out syndrome taking its origin.
Do you see a way out of this ?
We are trying to achieve some improvements s in Germany by not playing some age categories. Dropping the U20 from the sequence is a possibility, the players will have time to recover. This brings me to another point that I consider essential, this is the medical supervision of our players. I simply do not see how you can leave players to fend for themselves after injury. The custom to drive your player to the emergency unit of a hospital and then to wait for him or her to turn up for practice again is simply not good enough.
Where would you bring in changes ?
Medical staff on the spot, during games, a physiotherapist to take care of the players during their recovery time. You’d be surprised to see what a difference this makes, also to the morale of your players. I am happy to say that the full-time presence of such a professional at my games with T71 has made a tremendous improvement already.
Where do you see the foreign, mainly American, players fitting in?
I already insisted on the fact I cannot agree with the hire and fire policy adopted by a number of clubs. This goes with my policy of integration of all players, not only the foreign one(s). Good scouting is essential, here I can make use of my numerous contacts in the US. I rely on trustworthy agents first, but experience shows that a thorough analysis of the statistics is a good indicator. Money is not the key factor in our choices, Luxembourg is an attractive proposition to many American players. I believe that by giving the players the total picture, also the cultural and local differences, you can create a good basis to start from. Again, and I must insist on this, if you do your prospecting and hiring job properly you can avoid the often degrading situations encountered in the top league.
Where does Carsten Steiner spend his spare time ?
Obviously there is a life outside basketball, but I must say that it often comes back to the same old thing. The prospection work over the summer (roughly 150 men and 100 ladies) kept me quite busy, journeys to check on the DBB teams and numerous contacts abroad also take their toll. I found a rewarding use of my expertise in private industry – management training has a lot to do with sports training - and I have run such management training classes in a number of European countries.
Speaking of a busy schedule, the players are starting to arrive for tonight’s session, we bet you want to get on with it. We’d like to thank you for devoting so much time to our interview.
No bother, you’re welcome..