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Friday, March 13, 2015


Coach Don Meyer would always talk about the importance of terminology and word pictures in helping teach and motivate your team.  I think he'd like what the Atlanta Hawks are doing with the concept of "vitamins."  Here is an excerpt on an article that ran in the New York Times written by  Scott Cacciola.  It's a great article and you can read it in it's entirety here.
“It’s as important as anything we do,” Coach Mike Budenholzer said of the team’s emphasis on player development.
Spend some time around the Hawks, and one word continues to surface: vitamins. It is a metaphor for their philosophy, and it helps explain their 50-14 record. They take their vitamins when they hit the cold tub for treatment. They take their vitamins when they lift weights. They take their vitamins when they study film and watch their diets. Above all, they take their vitamins when they head to the gym for individualized skill sessions with Budenholzer’s assistants.
“It’s that daily nourishment that your body needs,” said Budenholzer, 45, who was hired before the start of last season after spending 19 seasons with the San Antonio Spurs, the last 17 as an assistant under Coach Gregg Popovich.
Budenholzer, who acknowledged appropriating the vitamin concept from one of his fellow assistants with the Spurs, seeks consistent improvement. In Atlanta, he has his players spend as much time working one-on-one with members of his staff as they do in traditional team practice settings. He wants opportunities for Paul Millsap to hone his outside shooting touch and for Jeff Teague to identify passing angles and for Kyle Korver to add a floater to his repertoire.
Before the Hawks faced the visiting Sacramento Kings on Monday night, the public-address announcer revved up the crowd by shouting, “Some still do not believe! Do you believe?” What followed was another clinic in a season full of them. All five starters reached double figures in scoring early in the third quarter. The Hawks assisted on 42 of 53 field goals. They set a franchise record by making 20 3-pointers. And they won by 25.
The win was only minutes old when Budenholzer began thinking about the work that still needed to be done. His staff soon joined him in a theater room at the arena. Budenholzer really likes meetings. He meets with his coaches before practices and after games, when they remove their ties and make plans for the next day.
“They’re probably up there right now, deciding whether we should have vitamins or not,” small forward DeMarre Carroll said after Monday’s game. “There will be some coaches fighting for us to get rest, and there will be some coaches fighting for vitamins. So they go in their little room and sort it out.”
Once the coaches decide on the schedule — they try to form a consensus, although Budenholzer has veto power — they debrief Wally Blase, the head athletic trainer, who sends late-night text messages to the players with the various times they are expected to report to the arena. Blase also lets the players know which coaches have been assigned to work with them for their vitamin sessions. Typically, no two players have the same schedule, so communication is vital.
“We do everything but send smoke signals over their houses just to make sure they know what’s going on,” Atkinson said.
In addition, each assistant receives a sheet that details his day: his allotment of vitamin sessions, along with the material that the coaches have agreed to cover. The message is uniform, and the coaches try not to overload the players with information.
“It’s not like we say, ‘Here’s 10 things for you to work on,’ ” Atkinson said. “No, here’s one or two.”
For Kent Bazemore, most of his vitamin sessions have centered on his reconfigured shooting stroke. Not long after Bazemore signed with the Hawks last year, he began working with the assistant coach Ben Sullivan, who picked apart Bazemore’s mechanics. Bazemore had an elongated motion, and the ball tended to come off his ring finger and pinkie.