Originally Published on Sportskeeda on 14 Jun, 2016
Stephen Curry, the reigning two-time MVP, is physically unimposing, but his feral skill set renders him an absolute nightmare for the defense. His play has shredded the defensive playbook time and time again by stretching the boundaries of what's feasible and possible on the basketball court.
The best judge of Curry’s ability would probably be Warriors coach Steve Kerr, who was Michael Jordan's teammate back in the day. Of Curry, he said, "Curry has the best skill set I've ever seen in terms of the combination of shooting and ballhandling, along with speed and quickness."
When your skills are being called greater than the greatest ever, you know you've arrived.
There is a whole book of activities which go into training to become an NBA player, this is just a look at some of Curry's training program which stand out. To claim that he owes his entire career to these five reasons would be folly.
What Curry has done is whittle down the process of getting better to concentrate on sharpening his efficiency. How is it that Stephen Curry is able to dominate and annihilate the opposition without being the absolute quickest, fastest, tallest or strongest player? Here's how he does it:
All of the world's coordination, quickness and durability drills won't mean a thing without a jump shot, and Curry has been training his shot under the watchful tutelage of his father Dell Curry.
Curry was born with his share of luck in terms of training facilities and carrying the genes of one of the greatest shooters in the NBA. What Curry has done to distance himself from the crowd is incorporated a work ethic to rival the greats.
Stephen's younger brother Seth recalls how they were trained to develop their form in their formative years. He said "When we were younger, my dad wouldn't let me and my brother shoot from outside the paint. We had to work on our form, then get better at longer distances."
Even Dell probably didn't envision how long those distances would shape up to be. Today Curry focuses on getting in rhythm with an assortment of shots and once he starts to flow, the river runs unchecked. He is less of a Ray Allen type of player who prepares with a meticulous shooting regime, he prefers to sink shots creatively.
His legs are the driving force behind his jumper. He credits core and leg strength for his range. Of his shooting he has said, “Once you get your legs into it, I think from the waist up, every time I shoot it's the same thing.”
Virat Kohli has also remarked the importance of lower body workouts which enable him to draw power for his shots. Great minds do think alike.
Here’s a look at Curry’s pregame training:
Adversity builds character, in cases where the oppressed chooses fight over flight. Curry faced his share of adversity in the form of his ankles which were unusually susceptible to sprains.
In his very first NBA season, Curry suffered five ankle sprains and played just 26 games. Curry was understandably despondent about being shackled. Imagine preparing your entire life to make it to the NBA and when you get there your feet fail you.
"I feel like I've been doing nothing but rehabbing for two years," Curry said of the experience. "I feel like I'm never going to be able to play again."
Injuries have derailed many a promising career in the NBA. Grant Hill, Tracy McGrady, half of the Trailblazers' franchise hopes, have all fell foul of various incidents which cut their careers short. Curry could have chosen to either give up or go through the mind numbing process of rehabbing extensively.
Before rehabbing came surgery. Undergoing surgery revealed bands of scar tissue, inflamed tissue, bone spurs and cartilage chips. That was a positive diagnosis since it meant that the excess could be shaved, scraped and vacuumed out in less time than it takes to complete a NBA game.
Today the Warriors’ owner Joe Lacob credits Curry's battle with his ankles for helping shape him into the player he is. "The ankle thing made him work smarter, to counteract him ever being put in that position again," Lacob said. "If he hadn't had it, maybe he wouldn't have the same core strength." GM Bob Myers agrees, saying "It made Steph what he is now."
Gerald Henderson was one of the few players rated at 40 in NBA Live video games. His impact on the sport of basketball was destined to be quite respectable, yet minimal. A journeyman who plays on the biggest stage of the sport without ever becoming a household name.
As fate would have it, we have Gerald Henderson to thank for Stephen Curry exploding from stardom, to super-stardom to becoming the almighty ruler of basketball who obliterates his opponents. Nike can snarl at Henderson for setting in motion the chain of events which led to Under Armour stomping its stamp on the market.
For what Gerald Henderson did, was introduce Stephen Curry to Brandon Payne of Accelerate Basketball. And the rest, as they say, is history.
Curry recalls Payne approaching him and saying “Hey, while you’re rehabbing your foot and you can’t put any weight on it or do a full-court workout, come to my gym and I can put you through some ball-handling stuff to keep you sharp and to allow that transition process back onto the court to be a lot smoother.”
One of the drills Payne puts Curry through is putting on military grade strobe goggles and dribbling a basketball while catching a tennis ball. Here’s a look at some of those workouts:
It may surprise you to learn that Stephen Curry is an immensely talented golfer as well. That is just too much talent packed in one dynamo. It becomes more plausible when one considers that Curry's incredible golf stroke and shooting stroke both can be attributed to his uncanny hand-eye coordination.
Warriors assistant coach Bruce Fraser has remarked of Curry saying “I would say he has the best hand-eye coordination of anyone in the world.”
Curry trains his hand eye coordination with a machine called the FitLight trainer. They use the FItLight Trainer which has flashing lights which indicate different commands for moves and Curry can switch the lights off by hand. This sharpens his hand-eye coordination beyond its current sublime levels.
Here’s a look at the Golden State Warriors training with some of these methods:
Curry's physical training regimen was shaped by a need to avoid injuring his ankles. He focuses on core strength and leg strength, with his workouts including single-leg reverse lunges, rear-foot elevated single-leg squats, single-leg deadlifts, etc. Most of his leg workouts are performed one leg at a time to aid balance and proprioception training.
Here's a fun fact: Curry can deadlift over twice his body weight. Deadlifting 400 pounds at Curry's height is nothing to sneeze at. He used to be able to lift just 200-225 pounds, till he focused extensively on increasing that amount. He realizes that the bulk of the energy required for a jump shot will be driven by his lower body.
Unlike some players who are obsessed with adding muscle mass, Curry has focused his obsession on refining his movements and reactions. And boy, has it ever paid dividends.