ITW Christian Corderas (Antibes Sharks): a shark with a gentle heart

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Christian Corderas, director of the Antibes Sharks training center, is considered one of the best French training coaches. At just 40 years old, he managed to accompany some great names in French basketball to the highest level.

You are one of the best French coaching coaches. What do you prefer: winning the title or knocking out professional players?
I don’t know, I’m one of the best (laughs). My preference is to leave professional players. This is my job and what we work for every day.
The title is more. Of course it’s rewarding, but taking out players puts us in front of what we’re looking for every day. I believe that if we work well on a player individually, collective results are achieved. That is, the more we work on the player performing and performing well, the stronger our teams become. The better we work with the player, the more we can use his individual potential.
In today’s French youth championship, of course, there is a part of tactics, but individual work and performance are reflected.

Do you think of the big brother role for the youngsters, or do you maintain a coach/player relationship?
I will say a little of both. There are three of us in the team, all the work done is collective.
Our relationship with our players has developed over the years. When they return to U15 or U16, inevitably the coach/coach relationship takes over. The more players develop, the older they get, the more relationships develop. Therefore, they understand that the rigor and demand of training is for them. I often tell them, “I have a job, you don’t.” I consider the educational center as a school. We upgrade them from U16 to U17, U18 to Espoirs at the same time so that they pass their lessons.
I’ve never been anyone’s big brother, but there are relationships that border on friendship. I have football players who are married and expecting children, and then I accompany them.
For others, we continue to support them in terms of performance. It is also a function of personalities and feelings. We’re all men, sometimes we can get a little more attached and attracted to some than others.

“France, I think, will be the flagship country of world basketball”

You say that a learning center is like a school. Is your role more educational than coaching?
It focuses on both, especially the rules of life that exist at the training center in Antibes. In addition to training football players, we also train men. I pay a lot of attention to what we do as human beings. There are boys who have no parents. There is also this educational base, which is necessary and indispensable for human development. If this is not done, there will be no sports outlet.
I want my players to be happy. Therefore, they must adapt to and understand our framework. We start with a foundation of education in relationships, ways of doing things. It can go very quickly, there are players that go very well with them. Indeed, for some, we need to talk to them about our existence, which is very important.
Schedules, courtesy, respect for people, teachers, staff, coaches, teammates, hall keeper, etc. Those who do not pass this course will never pass the sports course with us. To perform in the training center, you must be integrated into it.
I have been the head of the training center in Antibes for 11 years. Today I can account for it, the players who have passed this stage with us are the players in question. You have to take it as a disciple. These are short- and medium-term goals, there are players when they arrive, they are not formatted as we would like. After a year, we see a year and a half, we get there by shaping.
We strive to understand where we want to take the athlete, or with them, with simple and achievable goals. These players understand the course and the steps they need to take to complete the stages.

From left to right: Isaiah Cordinier, Jean Louchet, Timothé Luwawu-Cabarrot, Christian Corderas, Paul Lecurieux Lafayette

Two of your former defenders (Timothé Luwawu-Cabarrot and Isaia Cordinier) are playing in the Euroleague this season. Would you like to train them again at a professional level?
(Laughs). It would be fantastic, maybe in the last years of their careers. That’s not my goal today. I prefer to see them in the NBA, in the French national team, in the Euroleague. They are my friends now, we have a relationship other than ‘coach/coach’. Today, the biggest success of my life is the project of my two small children. It is an incredible result of the work done in the training center. I still have stars in my eyes when I talk about it. I never would have expected two players to be selected in the NBA Draft five years after my arrival.

When you manage to accompany players from the training center to the NBA Draft, do you call it success?
That’s what I immediately said to myself! I have achieved my ultimate goal. In the back of my mind, I always wanted to root for a player leading up to the Draft. But not in the end. My challenge today is to do it again.
Killian Tillie He came to the NBA. Hugo Besson he was called up for military service, we have only been with him for a year, but we know him well. I have other players with potential and I hope they get there one day.
We are working on it, setting new goals. All this creates a balm for our hearts and enthusiasm for what we are going to do. It doesn’t matter if we still achieve it in one, two, three or four years, it will still be a source of great pride. It’s a long journey. I’ve never had a player come out of the academy and go straight to the NBA.
The word I use most often is “accompaniment”. That is, how will I support the footballer in the transition to the professional world. What follows is his story. I don’t coach him anymore, although there are still players I coach individually, but that’s his story. We’ll see how he transitions to the professional world, playing with this level of team. It’s really an accompaniment, if the player wants it, he’ll agree. There are those who don’t need them as soon as they leave the training center.
Today, the most important thing is that those who leave it have technical and tactical weapons and moral strength to move to the professional level. It is difficult, the demands are very high.

The youth in the French national team have good results, the A’s are the vice-champion of Europe, vice-Olympic champion. France has many players abroad. Why are we so successful?
Why are we so successful? (Laughs). The question is broad and complex. France’s multiculturalism is a very dominant factor in performance. We have quality coaches, players with incredible potential. It is the balance and addition of all these factors that make France the flagship country of world basketball in the years to come.

Even ahead of the US?
Why not ? I think we can play them anywhere. When you see the final of the Olympic Games, two whistles blow.
When you see our ranking in the French Youth Team, we perform in all categories. Today we will play them face to face. The important thing about these results is that we realized we can beat them anywhere. There used to be a small mental barrier. Before playing against the USA, we told ourselves that we must not lose. The goal today is to win. There are many factors. I’d say it’s more a matter of mindset. We have good players, good coaches, a working structure. Of course, he could still get better, I’m not saying that everything is fine.
From what I have seen, there is nothing to envy the USA in terms of performances, style of play and individual qualities of the players.

“I still consider myself a coach in training”

More and more young French footballers want to go abroad without winning the national championship. How do you explain it?
It is difficult to get a young player to play in a professional league. Almost all coaches have a commitment to getting results.
I put myself in the shoes of a coach, between a young player with potential and a mature player whose performance we are sure of, when we say floor and ceiling, the young person has a higher ceiling, but there is a floor in his performance. can be low. For a professional, adult, we’ll tone this down. Recruiting young people is sometimes difficult.
It would be interesting if we were able to put in place rules that could get a minimum number of locally trained youngsters to play.
Right now I’m Pro B, a lot of young players are playing and doing well. Why not turn it into a development championship by reducing the number of foreigners and playing youth from the club’s own training center. This will allow the transition to the professional world.

If you weren’t a basketball coach, what would you be today?
I was never a good player. Very early on, I was just thinking about how I could live my passion by being a coach. I predicted myself too quickly.
My passion is sports in general, so I would say maybe I’ll do another sport. I was a PE teacher in Albertville when I started. I worked in colleges and high schools, taught sports to children. I made them play indoor soccer, we worked on many educational and social projects. I liked it very much. My heart still hurt when I stopped to go to work I wanted to do. I was having fun with these young people.
I would definitely be an educator in passing. What is important to me is the human relationship we can build with them, helping them, educating them and showing them the way to be a better person.
It is important to me, and I try to do the same with my children. It represents 100% of my life.
I watch all kinds of sports, when I have time I always have a podcast in my ear, I talk about sports. I’m not just interested in performance. Here are the lives, preparations and exercises of athletes and coaches. I receive information and share it with my youth. There’s always a voice in my head that says, “Can it be useful for business, can it help a player, can it help us, can it help me?”
Today, I consider myself a sports teacher, still a coach in training. I watch, learn, inform myself and gradually develop this technical-tactical base in my mind.
I don’t take anything for granted. In the team, we try to change and improve something every year. Sometimes we succeed and sometimes we don’t and we are humble enough to realize that.

Photo credit: Antibes Sharks

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