09/15/05 - michael jordan and practice

In today's excerpt - the importance of practice:

"The first time I felt there was something truly unprecedented about Michael Jordan as a player was in the summer between his freshman and sophomore years. I have never seen that kind of improvement in anyone, ever. We had asked him to work on a few things, such as his left-handed dribble and his outside shot ... But we weren't prepared for the exponential leap he made in his game. ...

"Once practice started, Michael dominated in our competitive drills, in which the losing side would have to run sprints. Sometimes I would stack a five-on-five game against him, putting many of our strongest players on one side, and still his team would win. One afternoon, he whispered to one of our assistants, 'My side's not going to run all fall.' He ran a few times, but not many. ...

"Virtually everything we did in practice was graded, and grades were based on execution. Pure scoring was irrelevant to me; I was more concerned with whether the player had looked for the right pass, made the right judgement, taken the proper shot. Players earned points for steals, good passes, and drawn charges. We kept careful count—not just for a single practice, but for their entire careers."


Dean Smith


A Coach's Life


Random House


Copyright 1999, 2002 by Dean Smith


203-204, 130
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