The Learning Curve: Building a Trained Response to External Stimuli.
Stages of Training:
1. Introduction. The new play is introduced and the basic structure of implementation is established.
2. Learning. Through the use of lecture and visual aids, the new play and its usefulness in achieving larger system goals is established.
3. Practical application. Hands on work using the new play is done within a structured and simplified format, focusing on the fundamental functions with limited or no contingencies taught. Extensive supervision during the initial phases to answer questions and correct errors in the process before they can be ingrained.
4. Practice. With the basics established, the new task is repeated with only the basic functions until proficiency is achieved.
5. Contingency thought. Once the new process is ingrained, contingency plans and alternate options are added to the basic play to allow for greater flexibility. Contingency plans or alternate options are designed within the framework of the larger system philosophy and the player's ability/strengths.
6. Varied practice. Situational practice is implemented to show how the basic or alternate play can be countered by opposition and the corresponding contingency response to that counter. Free form play should be encouraged provided it conforms to the overall system philosophy.
7. Wisdom. Knowledge + Experience + Sound Judgment = Wisdom. With the basic knowledge, sufficient practice, practical application experience, and sound judgment within the overall team philosophy; wisdom or High BBall IQ is achieved.
This process is complicated when used in a group matrix. The statistical chance of success is reduced exponentially by the number of personnel required in the process of each play. In addition, the chance of success is further reduced by the opposition's defensive competence. For example, in an isolation play, one offensive player goes against one defensive player. There is only one variable on either side, thus a higher level of consistency in the success rate. When the example is two-on-two, the number of play options for the offensive team has increased considerably, but the difficulty in properly executing for a positive outcome has also increased because both players must execute their part properly to achieve success. As you can see, the greater the number of players designed into a given play, the higher the degree of difficulty in everyone executing properly.
A corollary to this premise is that when more players are used correctly in an offensive play and they execute properly, greater defensive complexity and coordination is required to counter the play.
The quick conclusion would be that veteran teams tend to win more than young ones, but that isn't the whole story. The keys are chemistry, cohesion, and wisdom. Players must work well with and compliment their teammates' abilities. They must understand what their role within that group dynamic is. And, they must posses the wisdom to know what the right thing to do is at any given moment. Because those things typically take time to learn, it's assumed that only veteran teams can play and execute at that higher level of difficulty, while young teams are forced to utilize only rudimentary or too complex plays with less chance of success against veteran defenses. That is not always the case, however. In rare instances, players are able to internalize lessons at an accelerated rate and move from novice to veteran quickly. Such was the case with Brandon Roy, a four year college player who established a foundation of skill and knowledge that saw him enter the league with the game of a solid veteran player. A solid coaching staff and training/practice program in conjunction with feedback and progress reports can accelerate the learning curve of young players and allow those young teams to execute more complex offensive and defensive schemes once the province of veteran teams.
The current roster includes men of strong character and intellect, so it is exceedingly important that the coaching staff is prepared to aggressively train them so they can develop quickly. Imagine how quickly GO will progress surrounded by a 3rd year Roy and Aldridge, within a team philosophy that has had a whole season to take root and evolve.
I'm curious where you all see the Blazers in their development. Good and getting better with experience? Decent and stagnant due to lack of practice time? Dazed and confused?
My evaluation is: Decent and getting better with experience. Though I support Nate and the other coaches, I wonder if they're doing all they can to pump information into these guys. In today's world of technology, the film guy should be making learning aids with commentary added by the coaches. It would be a great and simple way to teach offensive and defensive assignments.
For those of you who made it to the end of this long-winded example of a Blazer-addict having too much time on his hands, I both applaud and sympathize.