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Monday, June 1, 2015

ARE YOUR PRACTICES ENJOYABLE?

There is so much talk and thought given into the organization and design of practices.  Good coaches understand the importance of detail -- of stringing practice together in a conducive matter to learning...part-whole.  But great coaches understand the importance of finding ways to make practice enjoyable.  They give thought to teaching but they also figure out ways to make sure the players are excited about practice each day.

The following is an excerpt from the New York Times of a story written by Scott Cacciola:

The Golden State Warriors are a joy to watch. Their offense is based on movement and spacing, all five players working together to create open shots. If Coach Steve Kerr is the conductor, Stephen Curry is his soloist, a 6-foot-3, 190-pound virtuoso in high-tops.

So their practices must be incredibly organized and disciplined, right? Laser-beam focus and all that? It is the only reasonable conclusion, given the way the Warriors steamrollered their opposition en route to the N.B.A. finals. But Golden State, whose best-of-seven series against the Cleveland Cavaliers starts Thursday, has a dirty secret.
 
“I’ve told Steve, if someone came in and watched the way you practice, it would be embarrassing for you as a coach,” said Bruce Fraser, one of his assistants.
 
Specifically, it has to do with the way the Warriors start their practices. The players form four lines to jog and get loose, which is normal enough, but then things get weird.
 
They warm up by launching a series of court-length shots — heaves that graze light fixtures and ricochet off shot clocks, total prayers that occasionally reach the rim but more often than not leave members of the coaching staff scrambling for safety.
 
Yes, the Warriors typically turn the first five to 10 minutes of every practice into something that looks more like middle-school recess.
 
“When we’re warming up and stuff,” Curry said, “you see balls just flying everywhere.”
 
Kerr, in his first season with the Warriors, contributes by having Nick U’Ren, a special assistant and the team’s manager of advanced scouting, blast loud music to ratchet up the energy. It all happens behind closed doors, so there have been few witnesses to the actual chaos, but players cite those first few minutes of practice as surprisingly important, a subtle key to their success this season.
 
“The whole atmosphere of our team is very relaxed,” said Festus Ezeli, a backup center. “It’s only basketball, so why not have fun?”

You can (and should) read the entire article here.