By ONE2ONE Team
We caught up with the newest member of the ONE2ONE BASKETBALL team, Coach Arron MacDonald, to learn a little bit more about him.
Why did you get into coaching?
I kind of got into coaching as I got into basketball… my Dad was one of my first coaches, and he really pushed to ensure that the kids he was coaching understood the importance of the “why” that sat behind the “what”, and that's a message that has stuck with me. On the way home from the sessions, he would be in my ear about the relevance of a certain aspect of the session, how it built towards performing in a game, and other key coaching points. So looking back, he was developing me as much as a coach as he was as a player from day one.
From there, I was a player-coach as a junior and senior player, and as injuries took their toll, I became a coach exclusively and really fell in love with the game all over again.
Understanding the “why” as well as the “what” from an early age really helped to drive me towards coaching, and although I can sometimes fall headfirst into the X’s and O’s of it, the thing that’s really kept me motivated to keep doing it is the opportunity to build relationships, to help players to become better team-mates, communicators and leaders, and to work together towards a common goal.
Talk us through your basketball career to-date…
I started playing at 10 years-old, and by 14 I was splitting time between a burgeoning junior programme at my hometown club (Bury St. Edmunds Bulldogs) and their Senior team.
I was fortunate enough to represent Suffolk in a tour of Belgium at 16, and captain the County the following season, but whilst on tour I badly dislocated my shoulder. Although a lot of physio meant that I was able to play U18 and U20 National League for Colchester - and received a couple of offers to play Division 3 Basketball in the States as well as a few BUCS schools - given the state of my shoulder, as well as some other personal circumstances, I elected to stay home and start a career.
I played local league and Division 4 Men’s NBL, but had two surgeries on my shoulder along with a handful of other quite serious injuries which meant I was spending more time getting ready to play and recovering from games than actually playing.
So I stopped playing at aged 30 to focus on coaching, moving from Bury to coach at Ipswich, where we went to the playoffs a few times, and also led the Suffolk U15 & U17 Boys to success in a number of East Region tournaments.
I stepped away from Ipswich to spend more time with my family, and worked to elevate the programme again at Bury, while mentoring a number of coaches around the country, but I’ve always stayed in touch with Coach Sadler, and I jumped at the chance to join ONE2ONE BASKETBALL when he asked me.
What moment from your coaching career to-date are you proudest of?
While I’m very proud of my record at Ipswich and with Suffolk, and I’m a really competitive person – my proudest moment in basketball has nothing to do with winning a game…
I’m most proud of a handful of players who were – frankly – really struggling when I met them.
I'm not going to name them, or go into individual circumstances - because that wouldn't be right. In each case though, they were either angry or in a confused place, and through building a relationship with them, working on their communication, leadership and focus, helping them to understand how to deal with adversity and helping them hold themselves accountable to the standards we believed they were capable of, they’ve all gone on to do wonderful things.
I never really thought about it until I bumped into one of them in a pub a couple of years ago – he introduced me to his girlfriend saying “this is my Coach – I’d be in prison if I hadn’t have met him.”
Whether that’s true or hyperbole on his part, I don’t know. But to know that years later, your players believe that your lessons helped them to make such a significant impact on their lives outside of basketball is what makes this all so very rewarding.
What film, podcast or book would you recommend to players or coaches?
The film that always inspires me the most is the 30 for 30, “Survive and Advance” which focuses on the late Jim Valvano and the NC State team who won the National Championship the year before I was born – my father always talked about them growing up, and Coach Valvano is someone I really look up to… it’s a documentary that makes you smile, cry and think – and I know that it would have made Coach Valvano very proud.
I recommend that anyone involved in the game listens to the Hardwood Hustle podcast, with Adam Bradley and TJ Rosene (the older episodes also feature Alan Stein). There have been so many topics that they’ve covered that just make sense to me and I’ve implemented in my teams – it’s superb for coaches – but they have player-specific episodes too, and the players I’ve worked with who’ve listened to them have loved them.
For a book? I love Jon Gordon and Malcolm Gladwell – just people who get you thinking about the everyday challenges you may face in a different light. I’d say I’ve probably bought twenty copies of “The Energy Bus” and given away nineteen of them, so that’s the book I recommend most. Outside of that, I'd say "Legacy" by James Kerr is superb.
What do you do when you’re not around basketball?
I really don’t get a lot of downtime between work and basketball, on the commutes I listen to a lot of podcasts, I read when I get the chance – although not as much as I would like - no matter what though, I try to learn something new every day, as I believe it's hypocritical of anybody in coaching to ever "stand still" from day-to-day, while expecting the people they lead to grow.
I really enjoy cooking, and spending time with my wife and two daughters, and once they’re in bed I’m normally watching Netflix or sport. I'm also fortunate to have a very close, and supportive, family and group of friends, so I spend a lot of downtime with the people that matter most to me.