Przybecki: “Motivation is not about exuberant speeches”
A team is not a bonsai tree. You can’t shape it just like you want as your vision needs to match your resources. If you have top stars and a huge budget, the task seems to be quite easy.
But when the majority of players is still gathering experience and your club president doesn’t use banknotes as hankies, it cost much more effort to build something firm.
Piotr Przybecki, head coach of Orlen Wisła Płock, has experienced a lot in his career. He played for several German teams, most notably THW Kiel. He won the EHF Cup three times, worked with the best coaches, like Noka Serdarusić or Ola Lindgren, and remains the top Polish scorer in the Bundesliga.
Now, he is the most promising young Polish coach. A few months ago he took over from Manolo Cadenas.
In the tough VELUX EHF Champions League Group A, Orlen Wisła Płock gained only one point so far, but they already threatened the big teams and showed some good handball.
For ehfCL.com, Magda Pluszewska spoke to Piotr Przybecki about the secrets of coaching: How to build the team, how to motivate the players, and how to gain authority with the use of polite words in the style of Ljubomir Vranjes?
ehfCL.com: What is necessary for a fruitful dialogue between coach and team?
Piotr Przybecki: Definitely trust. Then respect. And, in fact, the most important is to get across to the players. They need to know what I mean so that they can bring it on the court. They can not feel like I am navigating them. Their moves must come from themselves as they need to decide on their own in decisive moments.
ehfCL.com: Does it make a difference to a player if he plays in front of the guy whose name he has heard maybe three times, or in front of aces like Domagoj Duvnjak or Marko Vujin?
Piotr Przybecki: In general it works as motivation, but in case of young players it can go in different directions. When you see that you are too small to walk through the doorstep it will not help you in your further development. But look how the age in handball has shifted recently: Young players at the age of 20 are almost ready to play with the seniors. They have no complexes at all.
ehfCL.com: How do you prepare your players for matches against the big teams?
Piotr Przybecki: First of all, you need to prepare the boys tactically so that they are confident of what they are doing. When they enter the court they need to know exactly who they play against, what way, and why this way. The second important thing is motivation. But it is not a matter of entering the changing room before the game, giving some exuberant speech, clapping your hands and they will run on the court like invincibles. The process takes time on each training.
ehfCL.com: The Oilers have already shown they are not afraid of the handball elite.
Piotr Przybecki: To be honest, they have impressed me many times because I thought that experienced teams may run over them. Apart from Silkeborg that hasn’t happened, but we had some internal problems then which I don’t want to mention now. In general, my boys showed that they are able to fight for points. It is so important, because they believe in what I say thus in what they do.
ehfCL.com: It is not easy to build a team when you know you are going to lose some key players soon.
Piotr Przybecki: Our main problem is that Dmitry Zhitnikov and Rodrigo Corrales will leave. We need to find players from a similar level. People like Marcin Wichary and Adam Wisniewski are gold for us. The best way is always to have four, five leaders and the rest who learn from them. Competition is pushing the team forward.
ehfCL.com: How to play against Kiel so that another beautiful game does not end as the next failure?
Piotr Przybecki: First of all we need to work better in defence and use counter attacks, not positional attacks only. No matter who plays in their goal, Niklas Landin or Andreas Wolff: If one fails, the other substitutes him. They both can win matches on their own. It is typical for young teams which lack experience that one player does well in one game and the other in the second game. It would be good if there was a better balance. Kiel is a big team. I used to play there, I know these people, a lot of them still work at the club. Alfred Gislason is one of the best coaches in the world…
ehfCL.com: …just like many coaches you worked with. Who influenced you the most?
Piotr Przybecki: From Noka Serdarusic and Ola Lindgren I tried to take what is the best from the Scandinavian school. But also from Ljubomir Vranjes. Or the young German coaches. I am a mixture of all of them. Rich player experience helps a lot as well, but I am far from saying that I can offer all of this as a coach.
ehfCL.com: Vranjes is always so distinguished on the court: He seems to treat his players as partners, he doesn’t command, he adds “bitte” (“please” in German) to every second sentence. Do you think it works?
Piotr Przybecki: Don’t be misled by Vranjes, his “bitte” is shallow (laugh)! He is a little dictator in a good meaning of the word. We were talking all night after the match in Flensburg. This is the specificity of his character. He says “bitte” but there is no tiny margin of error. Players listen to him like soldiers to their general and do everything he orders. But not because he forces them, just because they know he is right.
ehfCL.com: You are quite similar to him as you are always so calm during timeouts. You tell players exactly what you want to see in the next action.
Piotr Przybecki: In such a short time players can’t ingest too much. You need to draw their attention only to what is the most important in this moment. Sometimes you need to be more aggressive of course. But first of all comes the content. Short commands. Only they will work with the adrenaline flowing.