“To master a skill, you need 10,000 hours of practice.” That is an old adage that if taken too literal, could be a theory that comes back to hurt you in the long run. Literally.
For Northern Illinois University (NIU) guard Xavier Silas, he found that out the hard way while preparing for his junior season, his first with the team after transferring from the University of Colorado in 2009. He was originally recruited by head coach Ricardo Patton en route to Colorado, but when Patton left it blazed the trail for Silas to follow him to NIU.
During that transition summer, Silas teamed up with the “stealth trainer” Frank Matrisciano to work on his game. The experience that he had with his trainer shaped him to what it is today, but not without major setbacks and a training regimen that emphasized quantity over quality.
Matrisciano is well known for working with current Los Angeles Clippers star forward Blake Griffin. He is a very unique trainer who does not use conventional methods, preferring the Rocky IV style of lifting rocks and running around mountains. His style, while unconventional, has a track record of proven success; but the extreme style he brings to the table has taken counter effects as well.
While working with Matrisciano, the game plan was to achieve mental toughness by repetition. He created a workout for Silas to maximize his shooting stroke and become elite, a road was paved with hundreds of made baskets a day. To be more exact, it was paved with a minimum of 750 made baskets everyday in the effort to create the mental toughness needed to become a great shooter. At times that called for Silas to shoot the ball over 1,500 times a day to hit his quota.
That style had two results.
The first was wear and tear on his body that caused a stress fracture on Silas’s hand, eventually leading him to break his hand and miss games. The countless shots took their toll on his body as well, and eventually it had to break down. The stress fracture was not a concern, give it a little rest and it heals up just fine. The problem was it was more damaged than expected and that led to the broken hand.
This bad habit was created by another, but fed in to Silas’ obsessive-compulsive nature. Former NIU assistant coach Sundance Wicks described Silas as “Ray Allen, he is OCD.” Wicks has been working with Silas for approximately six years, from CU to NIU to where he is today. Once he had the idea “more was better” in his head, Silas could not be told it was wrong. He was going to perfect this method whether it took him 1,500 shots a day or cost him games due to injury.
The second result was orchestrated by his coaches Wicks and Patton, a “Model of Efficiency” as they called it. Silas had in his head that the volume of shots was the best way to become the best shooter he can be. His obsessive nature is what led to him trying to perfect this craft, which led to injury and could have been much worse.
This “Model of Efficiency” is built like an NBA Draft workout; it is meant to have a player shoot a concentrated amount of shots in certain areas. Doing this allows a player to master that area on the court.