Ethan Pickett, USA team
Let’s be honest, I have been horrible about writing blog; but I made some promises to pick up to the slack. Since my last update from Denmark, I have finished the season, played in the USA National Championships, earn a promotion with my Danish club team, and returned home to Wisconsin for the summer. Luckily just because it is summer, handball for me hasn’t stopped. Toward the end of my stay in Denmark, I received an invitation to a camp in Serbia at the beginning of July. I accepted and that is where I am writing my blog from.
The camp is called “Handball for All”. Dragan Djukic, former Champion’s league coach and coach of numerous national teams, including current national team Great Britain. Other than Dragan, there is a star studded cast of coaches, including past Olympians, World Champions, and top league coaches from all over Europe. Along with quality coaches, there are also quality players; players at the camp come from Denmark, Iran, Great Britten, and Serbia.
After a four hour bus ride from the airport in Belgrade, we ended in Kopaonik, in the mountains, on Monday, the forth. We got in to the Ozon hotel around six, and then we were given our room assignments and time to look around. We were told to be ready for a short training at seven thirty. My first impression of the environment in one word is stunning. Not only is the hotel in the mountains, but a short twenty second walk out of the hotel’s front door brings you to the hall were we train. Below the hall is a very nicely put together gym. Going into the first training session, I really didn’t know what to expect. I thought maybe some drills along with games and scrimmages. It turns out, not only would we work on handball skills, but the strength and conditioning that goes along with being a top level handball player, with a world class handball strength and conditionings coach. The first night we focused on running on the front part of our feet as well as using our hamstrings for a more explosive sprint. Later in the training we broke up into groups and started to work some fundamentals. Following training we had a nice dinner. After diner we had a meeting with the coaching staff and then given the rest of the night to get to know each other better.
The next morning we woke up at half past seven; each person reported one at a time to have body measurements done. We were told later in the camp we will have a meeting with the coaches so they can help design a specific plan for each person on the things we need to improve to help reach the full potential of our bodies physically. After breakfast, we reported to training at nine thirty. We started again with some strength exercises and then moved into work with the ball. With the ball we worked a lot of skills with the ball and moving with and without the ball. After a nice lunch and downtime, we had another training in the evening. This training was the first time we shot the ball, but that isn’t a bad thing; in the first two days we have put a lot of time into fine tuning things we all should have all ready have known.
That night after training, we had a question and answer session with Nenad Vuckovic, Serbian national player and player in the German Bundesliga. It was a good opportunity to learn what each of us needs to do on and off the court to make it in the top leagues.
The next day, Wednesday, followed a similar schedule of the first day. After breakfast we headed to the gym to work on proper technique for a new lifting program each of us will be given at the end of the camp. After the gym, we headed up to the court to work on moving with and without the ball. The main point of trainings on Wednesday was movement. After lunch and rest, we hit the court again. This time, we did some agility moves with a three section ladder on the floor, along with balance and ankle work. We then moved into some handball skills. For this training, we were not only working on moving with and without the ball, but also defense and communication. To end the training, we did a full body movement circuit, to work on the areas that are essential in handball. That night, after dinner, we had another meeting, but this time is was more information about the strength and conditioning program we will receive at the end of the camp.
So far this camp has been a great experience, and it has just started. I am looking forward to the following days, in Kopanik; even though we have only had three trainings, I have learned an immense amount of knowledge. I have made friends from all over the world and learned handball from some of the best to ever be in the game.