This is how the Knicks practice, as told by Timofey Mozgov
Here’s a translation of another Timofey Mozgov’s blog post at Sports.ru, originally published in Russian on January 22.
So, finally, my friends, I get to the topic which you’ve asked about like 20 times already – the practices. Here in the NBA a lot of things are different than in Europe in terms of preparation for the games. This is a completely different world. There’s a lot to be surprised with, a lot to learn and a lot to strive for.
On the verge of joining the NBA I had different thoughts about it. I thought about the things that I already could do in basketball (if I couldn’t, I don’t think they would offer me a contract))) and in what way I could use it there. I though about which exact things I still had to learn…
In reality it turned out that I had to get used to a very specific rhythm. It’s not so much about exhausting practices, but more about keeping yourself in perfect shape during this dizzying marathon of a season, all while obtaining new skills within the team.
Do you get it? Without any doubt, this knowledge is very useful. On the one hand, you work within the team and you have your responsibilities: practices and games. On the other hand, you’re absolutely not required to practice more than it’s scheduled for the team. And, considering the crazy schedule, it’s not so much practice time – one time a day, from one hour to an hour and a half. With that said, you have to (it’s not just preferred, but you exactly have to) meet the extremely high requirements it terms of shape and understanding of the tactics.
Of course, for you to reach what you “have to”, the club provides you with everything: practice facility, skilled trainers, an individual practice plan… But the personal responsibility here increased manifold! While in very comfortable environment, you have to learn how to be a real professional – to be responsible for yourself.
To make it even more clear, let’s use the examples.
The team has done the main part of practice work before the season even started. We were learning the set plays and did a lot, a lot of running. We’ve analyzed the defensive system, its main principles and specific elements. So we went through the offensive schemes and also slightly adjusted physically. I put it exactly this way, because what can you do in just five days of training camp? That’s right, the team was getting in shape for less than a week.
Of course, knowing that, players came to the training camp already in good shape. Everybody was getting ready for the season on his own, according to his individual plan. Of course somebody may have used a summer schedule made by a personal trainer or a trainer within the club staff. Somebody just relied on his own experience.
Right now we have these so called “working practice sessions” about once every two weeks. They last less than two hours. During those practices we have full-scale five-on-five scrimmages. For the rest of the time the team… goes over our set plays and analyzed the opponent’s offense. Like I said, it takes an hour and a half tops.
We go to the gym, warm up, and then we work on tactics and then on shooting. As team leaders work to make their shot better, players who don’t play much, they scrimmage. Normally it takes 20 to 40 minutes, with 6 or 8 players participating.
When we have back-to-back games, practices are even lighter. Like I said, sometimes we don’t practice at all. But normally after lunch (which also serves as a breakfast, because we often arrive at night) we go to a special hall at the hotel (like a conference hall). There, a basketball lay-out is already marked on the floor. So there we walk (I mean, don’t run) and go over our set plays again. For about 20 minutes I guess. And then we rest. Those who need it, they hit the workout room.
I have to say that a lot of players want to go to the workout room. Because, I’ll repeat myself: your physical shape depends on you in a great way. Of course nobody is dying under the weights there. But everybody knows exactly what he needs to do.
So, this is how a 20-minute team workout is just perfect in terms of time length. I know it sounds weird when you’re not used to it. But when you look at the results, it’s a fact. An unquestionable fact.
Of course, at the same time coaches try to teach us something new. How? I’ll blog about it in a few days, I’ll tell you about my individual practices. By the way, you’ve asked about my numbers in the weight room. So, my record for bench press is 268 lbs. But I’ll talk about it more a bit later.
To sum up my impressions. All in all, I can’t say that practices here are harder than at Khimki. More likely, it’s on the contrary. There we had both two-hour practices and two-a-days. But in the NBA, like I’m sure you got it, there are other nuances, the whole process is different and there are other difficult parts.
See you soon!