We're Talking About Practice?
Posted on August 26, 2011 by Early Jackson, One of Thousands of Performance Coaches on Noomii.
Practice doesn't make perfect; right practices make perfect. Allen Iverson proves that practice is vital, even to super stars!
These words were sent across the globe on November 29th, 2006 when then franchise player for the Philadelphia 76ers Allen Iverson sat at a press conference and lamented about the treatment he was receiving at the hands of the organization’s executives. It sounded so pitiful as he sat there asking why would someone single him out when he had laid his life on the court night after night for a team since 1996. If you remember, he had only been at Georgetown for 2 years when he was snatched in the first round drafts that year. His rise to stardom always seemed to be overshadowed by his reckless choices and questionable friends. Don’t get me wrong, after living in Philly for 15 plus years I gave grown to appreciate the sheer grit of my Philadelphia franchises but I am also aware of a pattern of issues when I see them. Allen was and is a phenomenal player that may find his way into the Hall of Fame one day. But nothing can erase the message sent that cold November afternoon to millions of NBA hopefuls who learned that if you’ve got game, you have no need to practice!
Let me take this opportunity to point out some points as we take a stroll back in time with Mr. Iverson. Understanding his beginnings may in fact assist us in putting his words at the press conference in proper context. Iverson was born into a struggling family and suddenly deserted by his father. His mother used sports as a way to keep him busy. While in high school in Newport News he was known for his awesome speed, agile abilities, trash talking and his un-coachable attitude. It would also be the place where he would be sentenced to 5 years in prison for assaulting a woman. Fortunate for him, he always had supporters and he only served 4 months and was pardoned. Next we understand that he began to utilize his talent and barter them for special privileges. Most of his former team mates would tell you Allen always had a disdain for rules and regulations. Most of his coaches and mentors only fueled this fire by letting him know he was the star of the show! Even Sixer’s coach, Larry Brown, would soon grow to regret the freedom he allowed Allen to enjoy.
Here are some things we can take from this:
(1) Even though you are very talented, practice is all about fundamentals: Tiger Woods said that whenever his game seems to struggle or go down, the first thing he does is take a look at his habits in his practice time. There is a force of muscle memory that dictates how you respond in tight situations. In other words, no practice, no longevity.
(2) Your practice reveals a lot about your attitude to your craft: When the great Michael Jordan came from UNC to the Chicago Bulls, he was legendary for his work ethic. Every coach said the same thing, even hurt Mike would be the first one in and the last one to leave. He would demand all his team mates run all out for practice. They say his intensity during practice time was scary! I guess the six championship rings say it all.
(3) Practice produces a winning team not just one winner: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar said, “Individuals win games but teams win championships”. When Los Angeles acquired Shaquille O’Neil it was vital for him and Kobe Bryant to connect in a special way. Phil Jackson wanted a synergy to evolve on the court that is only formed through countless hours of practice. He was right. They went on to win 3 championships together. This is not a fluke; this is careful calculation and execution of a game plan. There is no way their greatness could have been maximized without them learning it in practice.
We need practice. We have to practice. But along with practice we need the right foundation and proper mentoring to ensure that we are growing properly. Practice does not make perfect, but it sure does increase the likelihood of a win!