Guest Post from Lamar Hull on the Benefits of Practice


Lamar Hull is a former NCAA college basketball player from Davidson College in North Carolina, who also played on the European professional circuit. He now writes for Direct2tv. He poses an interesting question about the 10,000 hours of practice theory.

As a former basketball player with two NCAA tournaments and a professional tour in Europe behind me, I can confirm that Dr. K. Anders Ericsson’s theory about the quantity of practice required for success is true. Continually setting small goals works, and mental commitment is key. But the more you practice, the further you will go.

Pete Maravich, an NBA Hall of Famer, was a childhood idol of mine. Not just because of his raw talent for basketball, but because of his attitude and his tireless work ethic. He has a desire to be better than the last day, every day.

I decided to model my discipline after his. I started with dribbling drills in the driveway. I practiced shots for hours alone. His homework basketball drills is what molded my game in to what it is now. His drills challenged you to be uncomfortable so that you could become a better player by mastering unique drills.

The discipline continued through middle school, and eventually high school. While other kids were planning sleepovers and frequenting the mall, I dedicated myself to hours of practice. When I wasn’t playing for my middle school team, I was playing pickup games in the neighborhood. It was my practice regimen and perseverance that got me recognition from the varsity team coaches as a freshman.

I played varsity basketball all four years of high school and carried a reputation as a hard worker both on and off the court. I am short so I envisioned my game like former Celtics’ point guard and Hall of Famer, Nate Archibald. His nickname was ‘Tiny’ so I had something to relate too. But there was nothing tiny about Archibald’s game.

I decided I wanted to play college ball, and eventually go pro. I would stop at nothing to achieve those goals, and I would use practice as an avenue to get there.

But I went to a small high school in a small town. College scouts didn’t visit our high school games. I imagine for a lot of young athletes, this is where the road would end.

Mine didn’t.

Even after my senior season ended, I kept practicing. I knew if I kept my skill level constant and took matters into my own hands, I would reach my goal of playing professional basketball.

I wrote to colleges and universities, and sent packages documenting my basketball skills. I ended up earning a walk-on role at Davidson College, a Division I-AA school. I was able to play with Golden State Warriors star Stephen Curry. We went to the NCAA tournament twice. Afterwards, I was offered a contract to play professional basketball for the Kings Lynn Fury in England.

It wasn’t the NBA, but it was still professional basketball. I set a goal a long time ago and I made it.

How did I get there?

It wasn’t my height (I’m 5’9″). I didn’t get “discovered” by a scout. I didn’t play for the top high school team in the nation. I didn’t play for the NCAA championship team. I didn’t have any outrageous high scoring records. It wasn’t for any of the reasons we typically see the top athletes in team sports excel.

It was practice, practice, practice, and more practice. Practice brought me to the goal I set for myself so many years ago.

According to the Ericsson’s theory, it takes 10,000 hours of practice to achieve incredible success. I don’t know if I hit that threshold, or if I’d be deemed as a success like Michael Jordan. But I achieved my own version of success, I accomplished my goal.

I can tell you with full confidence that practice IS without a doubt the key to success. Whether you are playing an individual sport, or a team sport, practice determines your destiny.

Photo was supplied from Hull and can be found on his website


Happy 64th Birthday Dave Cowens

How can any Celtics fan forget that today is Dave Cowens birthday. Yeah, I understand that remembering athletes birthdays are weird, but I saw that it was his birthday when I was surfing the internet, so I figured why not do a blog on one of the greatest Celtics and basketball players of all-time.

After a rare down period of not winning after Bill Russell retired as a player and coach, the Celtics were in a small state of flux.

Then during the 1970 NBA Draft, Celtics patriarch Red Auerbach pulled another rabbit out of a hat and drafted a big red-headed, Kentucky boy out of Florida State University with the 4th pick of the draft. This was the beginning of Cowens career with the Celtics, which lasted from 1970-1980.

Of course, Auerbach was told that the 6’9″ Cowens was too small to play center. He was told that he couldn’t match up against big centers such as Wilt Chamberlain or Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. That was a bunch of crap. In fact, the league would have to watch out for Cowens for a full decade.

What did Cowens do in his 11-year Celtics career?

He was a seven-time All-Star, Rookie of the Year in 1971, All-Star MVP in 1973, league MVP in 1973, All-Defensive First Team in 1976, NBA All-Rookie First Team in 1971 and of course a two-time NBA champion in 1974 and 1976.

After Cowens retired, he was named to the NBA’s 50th Anniversary All-Time Team and elected into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1991.

Not bad ehh?

Don’t forget Cowens was probably the hardest and grittiest player to ever wear the Celtics uniform. His coach during the two years he won championships was Tom Heinsohn. You can bet your bottom dollar that if Heinsohn was handing out “Tommy Points” back then that Cowens would be the recipient and winner every night.

Cowens was all heart, and he poured buckets of sweat and even some blood at times for the Celtics, his teammates, Auerbach and Heinsohn. He was always diving on the floor for loose balls, and devouring rebounds whenever the ball was within an arms length reach and then some.

In a day where athletes are overpaid divas and who go by whatever their agent tells them, it’s always good to look back and reflect on players, such as Cowens, who gave everything they got to the game in order to win.

Here are some highlights from his career.

Photo (cc) by murphman61 and republished here under a Creative Commons license. Some rights reserved.