Recently, I've become fascinated with trying to find out how other countries around the world develop their players. I've always been fascinated with the former Yugoslavia. Up until say 1993, the best players in the world outside of the U.S. came from the former Yugoslavia. I read a great article the other day which talks about the "Yugoslavia School of Basketball". Here are some great quotes from the article:

The Yugoslav national basketball team never played 'run and gun' basketball and rarely played a full court press (both dominant in the U.S.A), but did effectively play various types of zone defense that require a lot of teamwork and intelligence. At a basketball coaches’ seminar held in Italy in the early 1980s, a Spanish coach, wondering why Yugoslav players dominated European basketball and were highly competitive on a global scale, concluding that 'what matters most is that they are Yugoslavs!'

The Yugoslavs, knowing that they lacked the athleticism of their counterparts, had to rely on good shooting, sharp passing, and creativity instead. The author also points out the 3 pillars of the "Yugoslavia School of Basketball":

1. The national team. This included men, women, and junior (boys and girls) select teams.

2. Second, a strong national federal league was established. In the words of the professional player Dino Radja (Boston Celtics, 1995–1997), the Yugoslav federal basketball league used to be far stronger, more competitive, and balanced than any other European national or international league. The quality of the domestic competition was maintained thanks to the Basketball Federation’s provision that players could not work for foreign employers until they were 27 years of age.

3. Third, organized, systematic scouting, and early development for teenage players. As the result of this type of development, the national team would bring together entire generations of friends from all over the country, who would frequently begin to play together for the national team as 16-year-olds. They remained together throughout their careers, thus preserving the esprit de corps of their teenage days.

I think there are too many special interests in the U.S. system of development to adapt to the "Yugoslavian School of Basketball", and given the dominance of the U.S. in basketball, I'm not sure change is needed. But for Canada, I think it is definitely something worth exploring. The author of the article also talks about the "cult of the national team".

The author also talks about the Yugoslavian philosophy on shooting and practices:
Come off the bench shooting cold. Start practice with a shooting drill. No shooting in the middle of practice. End practice with pressure shooting must make certain amount of shots in a certain amount of time. Do not leave until the goal is reached.

No soft shooting drills.

Two styles a) form b) pressure (especially when mentally and physically fatigued)
50 baskets in 2 minutes – 2 point shots then 3 point shots

Experiment with team – how shots or time to make 10, three pt shots

For more offensive skill development info, check out Kevin Sutton's DVD on 2 Ball Development Drills. Coach Sutton is a NIKE Skill Academy Instructor and head coach of Montverde Academy.


  1. Radical Fans United  

    April 26, 2010 at 3:49 PM

    Hi by Athens!
    We would appreciate it,if you could copy paste or send us an email,how we could find the whole text.We really would like to translate it in greek,because in greece we love basketball and also there was a complicated realtionship with yugoslavian sports...

    thanks in advance