London GD Q&A With Professionals David Davis

It’s been some hectic months for handball in the UK with little certainty on when we can get back on court. Instead, we look back on one of the club’s handball highlights this summer, the Q&A with Handball Professionals where we have been blessed with amazing guests weekend after weekend.

Often we would speak about a player’s incredible handball journey or hear stories from a coach on the sideline, this time we present to you both. David Davis has enjoyed success in both roles, first as left winger for prominent clubs such as BM Ciudad Real and now as the Head Coach of Telekom Veszprém in Hungary.

Big thanks to David Davis for chatting with our GD family about his handball journey. We fully enjoyed the company!

Different Mindsets As Coach And Player

Few people get to enjoy great handball success as both a player and coach, but Davis has managed this and explains that the main difference between the two roles is in the mindset. “[As a player] you just focus on yourself,” he elaborates and adds that there is flexibility to adjust training to your needs and motivation on the day.

On the other hand, a coach is responsible for a group of individuals who all need to be managed in different ways in order to achieve success as a team. Davis admits that it can be challenging to be responsible for 20 egos and jokes that he always advises his players to continue playing for as long as they can. However he concludes that “it’s also beautiful to combine these 20 minds of people from different countries to do something great.”

Champions League Success

Most handball players dream of going all the way to the top in the Champions League, the most prestigious tournament in the world of handball. Not only did Davis manage this three times as a player, he also added another CL trophy to his collection in 2017 as coach when ŽRK Vardar brought home the gold medals.

Vicente Álamo, former BM. Granollers player and teammate of Davis, dropped by to greet us and asked how Davis compares the Champions League win as a coach to winning the title as a player. “As a coach it is your ideas [on the court],” Davis explains and adds, “it’s a long and hard trip but you can enjoy the victory much more.” In comparison, Davis explains that players sometimes don’t fully understand how difficult it is to reach the Champions League finals and win, “especially if they are in a good team,” he says.

“If We Start, We Finish”

Although he’s achieved great success since, Davis’ coaching career hasn’t been without challenges. When he first joined RK Vardar, the club was in a good financial situation allowing them to sign good players and even provided them with a personal gym to use. However this changed in Davis’ last two seasons as the Macedonian club suddenly found themselves in financial difficulties.

The chaotic club situation could easily have impacted the team's motivation, but Davis quickly made it clear that those who decided to start the season and join the first training, would also have to finish it regardless of whether they were paid or not. “If we start, we finish,” Davis recalls telling the players and adds that he saw his players display great professionalism and commitment by showing up at training and continuously working hard without complaints.

School of Dujshebaev and Pastor

“Me as a coach? Never,” Davis remembers thinking for most part of his handball career but as the expression goes, never say never. After Davis' career as a professional player ended, he obtained his coaching license and began working with young players. One thing leading to another, Davis can now say he’s successfully coached both men and women teams.

Official qualifications aside, Davis has been fortunate to learn from some of the greatest handball coaches of all time including Talant Dujshebaev and Juan Carlos Pastor. “I copy from Talant the way he speaks to the team,” Davis says and continues, “one thing is what you say, another is what they understand.” In terms of playing systems and how to analyse the teams, Davis draws from Pastor mainly.

Advice Changes As Handball Changes

Over the years, Davis has received plenty of useful advice but he has also had to learn things the hard way such as when he signed a contract with a club that nearly went bankrupt before getting started. In general he finds that the greatest advice comes from experienced players, “as a young player you might not want to listen because you are too young,” Davis explains and adds that more often players don’t listen because they don’t understand the advice given. Having said so, Davis also thinks there is a lot to learn from young players.

According to Davis a lot of things have changed in today’s handball landscape in terms of supporting the players. “Nobody was taking care of the food or whether you rest,” Davis explains when talking about his earlier experiences with handball. In comparison, he received more guidance later in his career particularly on life after active handball.


Future Full Of Possibilities

Marcel Pagliotta, manager and good friend of Davis joined the call briefly to poke fun at Davis’ supposedly poor basketball skills. Slightly flustered by his friend’s revelation, Davis admits that his skills on a basketball court leaves a lot to be desired. “Basketball is my demon,” he says with a big laugh.

Basketball might not be his forte, but handball has certainly proven to be. When asked if coaching FC Barcelona was part of his future plans, Davis simply states with a smile that his job is to be a coach. “If they call me and [the opportunity] is better than here, I’m open to go to the moon if necessary,” Davis concludes before it’s time to wrap up the Q&A.

Text by Maria Tran

 Full video interview: