“Success leaves footprints… are you following them?”
If you want to be successful, you need to learn from the path successful people have taken.
I had the opportunity to be around several of the NBA’s best and hear some invaluable insight on what it takes to be great. Kevin Eastman, Tim Grover, Amar’e Stoudemire, Andre Iguodala, and Deron Williams left some footprints.
I am most certainly going to follow them…
Kevin Eastman is an assistant coach with the Boston Celtics and the Director of the Nike Basketball Skills Academies. He has coached at every level and is one of the most respected basketball minds in the world.
Question: What makes Kevin Garnett a future Hall of Famer?
Coach Eastman: His drive, focus, and discipline. He does all of the little things necessary to be great and he does them daily. He is always looking to learn.
Question: What did Rajon Rondo do differently this past off-season to propel him to the upper tier of NBA point guards?
Coach Eastman: He didn’t do anything drastically different. He has just continued to grow and mature at a steady pace and this past year reflected many years of hard work (not just one off-season). Rajon has always been very dedicated to his craft and has always worked hard. One example of his dedication is the fact he worked with a shooting coach (Mark Price) and concentrated on improving his accuracy from two specific spots, the short corners and elbows. This is where he gets 90% of his shots in our offense.
Question: Ray Allen is one of the best shooters in the history of the NBA. What is his shooting regimen?
Coach Eastman: Ray is the only player I know who arrives at every game 3 hours before tip-off. He follows an intense shooting routine and works himself into a full sweat. He pays close attention to detail, especially with his feet. He makes sure he uses the exact same form every single time. Ray Allen is not one of the best shooters in the league by accident!
Question: How would you describe Paul Pierce’s game?
Coach Eastman: Paul is a professional scorer. He knows how to score. He is not the quickest or most athletic player, but he understands how to play the game, how to use ball fakes, and how to play at different speeds. He lets the game come to him. He gets shots from where he wants, when he wants. He is really hard to stop.
Question: What are the biggest skill deficiencies you see in high school players?
Coach Eastman: They play too fast, they over dribble, and they care too much about “me” and not enough about “we.” Getting players to understand tempo is extremely challenging, but it is a quality that all of the top players have.
Question: What advice would you give young coaches?
Coach Eastman: Never say no to a basketball opportunity. You never know what doors they will open. Gather as much knowledge as you can, from as many different sources as you can. Sift through that knowledge and formulate your own system and philosophy. You can learn everywhere, so always carry a pen and paper. Network and build quality relationships. Try to be in the company of successful coaches and soak up their knowledge. Ask questions. Coach to your personality and be authentic (don’t try to be someone else).
Question: What aspects of the game do coaches need to emphasize more with their players?
Coach Eastman: Most coaches are great with drills. They know millions of them. But they need to teach their players to transfer those drills into playing the actual game. That transfer is the ultimate goal. Most high school (and many college) players don’t really know how to play. Coaches need to emphasize time and score, proper spacing, ball movement, help defense, post feeds, tempo, etc.
Question: What are the 3 most important qualities of being a successful coach?
Coach Eastman: (1) You must be a lifelong learner. (2) You must be honest with yourself, with your staff, with your players. (3) You must understand the importance of relationships. Coaching is all about inspiring and motivating to improve performance. What you “bring” to each workout (energy, enthusiasm, effort, patience, etc.) is more important than what you “know.”
I highly recommend you visit www.KevinEastmanBasketball.com to learn more about the upcoming Coaching U Live. It will be the most intense, detailed, no-nonsense look at all aspects of teaching and coaching the game. Coaching U promises to deliver well over 700 teaching/coaching points!
Tim Grover is an internationally renowned basketball trainer who has worked with Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, and Dwayne Wade (among numerous others).
Question: What makes Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, and Dwayne Wade so remarkable?
Tim Grover: They are never satisfied. They look at ways to improve every workout, every practice, and every game. When they look at game stats, they look at turnovers, fouls, and how many points the guy they were guarding scored. They work diligently on improving their weaknesses. They pay attention to the smallest details… especially footwork. They constantly study the game. They study their opponent (to expose weaknesses). They study their teammates (to highlight their strengths). They study the history of the game and respect previous generations.
No matter how successful they are, they do these 3 things every day: show up on time, listen, and work hard. The great ones are always the hardest workers. They set the tone. They set the standard. They are confident but they do not feel entitled. They feel they need to prove their greatness day in and day out. They know basketball can be taken away immediately… so they don’t take it for granted. They play every day like it could be their last. Great players also believe the harder you work out, the easier the game becomes.
Question: Who was better, Michael Jordan or Kobe Bryant?
Tim Grover: Michael Jordan is hands down the best player of all-time. Even Kobe would agree. MJ had a feel for the game that is unparalleled. His instincts offensively and defensively were amazing.
Amar’e Stoudemire, Andre Iguodala, and Deron Williams are NBA All-Stars and three of the top players in the league. Each is committed to working extremely hard in the off-season.
Question: What does a typical day in your off-season consist of?
Amar’e Stoudemire of the Phoenix Suns:
· I wake up at 8:00am.
· I eat breakfast, usually Granola and fruit.
· I warm-up, stretch, foam roll, do corrective exercises, core work, and lift heavy.
· I go right to the court.
· I start with inside work: jump hooks, baby hooks, short jumpers, and Mikan drill.
· Then I move to perimeter stuff: ball handling series, face-up moves, game shooting.
· I finish around 12pm (3+ hours of intense work).
· I don’t play 5 on 5 in the off-season, but rather focus on my individual development.
· I follow this schedule 5-6 days per week.
Andre Iguodala of the Philadelphia 76ers:
· I wake up at 8:30am.
· I eat a light breakfast.
· I start my workout at 10:00am.
· I start with a ball handling series, working hard on my off-hand.
· I then go through a comprehensive stretching series.
· Then I do 1.5 hours of intense game-like shooting (500+ makes).
· Then I head to the weight room.
· I lift legs/core twice a week and upper twice a week. I lift heavy.
· I don’t play much 5 on 5 in the off-season.
· I work out 4-5 days per week.
Deron Williams of the Utah Jazz:
· I wake up at 8:00am.
· I eat breakfast.
· I start with my strength training.
· Most of my focus is on core strength and stability. I do a lot of bodyweight stuff.
· I also focus on quickness and agility and proper movement.
· For cardio I do a lot of biking and swimming to give my joints a break.
· Then I go to shooting. I intentionally shoot from spots I don’t shoot well from in games.
· I record shots/makes and compare to last year’s numbers. I must improve!
· Then I do a finishing series: working on floaters, runners, power lay-ups, Euro-steps.
· Then I do ball handling drills.
· I try to play 5 on 5 three times per week.
· I work out 5-6 times per week.
I think it is very important to highlight that all three of these NBA All-Stars wake up early, eat breakfast, and are dedicated to their strength & conditioning and on-court basketball development.
Everyone one of these brilliant men constantly stressed the importance of working hard. But what does it mean to “work hard”?
By my own personal definition, hard work is the conscious choice to leave your comfort zone. To push past what you are capable of doing. It is giving as much as you have at that moment. When things get uncomfortable, do you back down or do you push ahead? The great ones work hard consistently. Anyone can work hard occasionally. Working hard is a learned characteristic and a trait each of us has 100% control over. Working hard is a choice.
If you want to see the drills from the Deron Williams Nike Basketball Point Guard Skills Academy please check out http://TinyUrl.com/DeronWilliamsSkillsAcademy
Please let me know if I can ever be a resource to you for your program. You can email me at Alan@StrongerTeam.com.
Train hard. Train smart.