Many Olim make contributions to Israeli society in all shapes and sizes and across many spectrums of day-to-day life. Few, however, are basketball coaches.
Jake Rauchbach is one such Oleh who also works with up-and-coming NBA players.
Last season, Rauchbach joined the coaching ranks in Israel as an assistant with upstart Ness Ziona, working under head coach Nadav Zilberstein, and helped take the team to the playoffs.
After serving as an assistant for the United States Maccabiah basketball team last season together with media personality Doug Gottlieb, Rauchbach fell in love with the country and knew that his future was going to be in the Holy Land, “I fell in love with Israel and it feels like home,” said Rauchbach.
Born in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, basketball was in his blood from an early age as Rauchbach made his way to Philadelphia, where he starred at a nationally ranked prep school.
After walking on to the Drexel University basketball team, Jake earned a Masters in Business Administration with a focus in personnel management, as well as a Masters in the Psychology of Human Movement from Temple University, along with three Chinese Medicine High-performance certifications, all while working as an assistant coach at both of those universities.
Together with his education and experience as an assistant coach, Rauchbach combined the two and created the MindRight Pro Program, which is a proven process for players to statistically improve performance.
A high-performance coaching program, MindRight Pro zeros in on supercharging the mind-body connection of an athlete by removing the unconscious mental and emotional blockages that inevitably hold players back.
“MindRight Pro combines mindfulness, basketball skill development and Chinese medicine. It’s a synthesis of all three of those dynamics, which gets to the root of helping players improve drastically over a short period of time,” explained Rauchbach. “It’s the process of doing the same thing every day and to improve focus to create momentum in the actual game. The player must always go through the same pre-game focusing routine to ensure that he’s locked in.”
Ness Ziona gave Rauchbach his first chance to coach at the professional level and integrate his program with post college players, “I’m very grateful for the opportunity to live a dream and coach in Israel while also implementing my program,” said Rauchbach. “There was certainly an adjustment period, adapting to a new culture and different language as well as going from college to the pros but everything turned out just fine. All in all it was an amazing first season, which I now want to build from.”
The players who worked with Rauchbach at Ness Ziona benefited from the program and saw marked improvement in various aspects of their game.
“Former NBA player Deaquan Cook wanted to improve his scoring efficiency because he wasn’t shooting the ball well. He may have led the league in three-point attempts, but needed to improve his percentage. Working with him with helped his efficiency, and by the end of the season led the league in points per minute. In addition, his thee-point percentage also went up, meaning he’s doing more things on the court that is positively affecting the team and helping it win in ways not necessarily measured statistically.”
Cook, the 2009 NBA All-Star threepoint champion couldn’t have been happier with the results of working oneon-one with Rauchbach this past season.
“I’m grateful for the opportunity and for the time we spent together because it really helped my game and put me on a different level,” said Cook.
Israeli veteran Tal Dunne also joined Rauchbach’s program. “Jake helped me get my hunger back,” explained Dunne. “I want to succeed more than ever and be the best that I could be. I used to get distracted by any small thing, but now I’m calm and poised.”
Damion Lee who played his college ball at Drexel and Louisville, recently signed a two-way contract with the World Champion Golden State Warriors.
The shooting guard credits his success to Rauchbach. “MindRight Pro helped me make an NBA team and the program helped shift my mindset, improve my focus and shooting percentages along with my performance consistency,” said Lee.
When Rauchbach began his program, it was considered ahead of its time by many.
But now, the North Carolina native explains that it’s part of the modern day NBA and college system.
“Back then, not every NBA team had a sports psychologist or a dedicated analytics team. However, this program goes even beyond that. Our goal is to help improve statistics through mindfulness and skill development together.”
While Israel is still developing in basketball statistical analysis, the benefits are plenty, proven and a must-have for those teams who may not have the funds to compete with the big boys.
“The edge that this program can give to smaller-budget teams in Israel is that it can close the gap between a low-budget and high-budget team providing for a more level playing field,” added Rauchbach.
Joshua Halickman, the Sports Rabbi, covers Israeli sports and organizes Israel Sports Adventures for tourists and residents. Follow the Sports Rabbi on Twitter @thesportsrabbi or visit www.sportsrabbi.com. Contact the Sports Rabbi via email at firstname.lastname@example.org