06/22/05 - practice

In today's excerpt - meticulous basketball coach Dean Smith, two-time NCAA champion, on his philosophy regarding practice. This echos the philosophy of ten-time NCAA coach, John Wooden, who felt practice was more important than any strategy or adjustment during the game itself:

"Practice was the foundation of everything we did. Our practices were tough, carefully planned and meticulously organized. We believed that doing the small things right helped us to do the big things right.

“ 'Pratice is a privilege,' I told our players. 'If you're not here to work, don’t come. After all, this isn’t a required freshman English course. This is fun and it’s an elective. Not only that, it’s easier than football.'

"Each day, players received a typed copy of our practice plan. They would come into the locker room, and while dressing they would leaf through the plan, which would give them a precise schedule of what we would be working on that day.

"At the top of the plan was a Thought for the Day, which was usually a quotation that had nothing to do with basketball. Rather, it was a philosophical remark that we hoped put basketball into a larger context. We used the Serenity Prayer on occasion. Or we might use something taken from the Bible, or something Islamic or Judaic. The players were asked to memorize it. As they went through their prepractice stretches and routines, you could see their lips moving as they repeated it over and over:"

You can tell more about a person from what he says about others than what others say about him.

Don’t let one day pass without doing something for a person who cannot repay you.

Never judge your neighbor until you have walked in his moccasins for two full moons.


Dean Smith


A Coach's Life


Random House Publishing Group


Copyright 1999, 2002 by Dean Smith


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