Train the Chain

Chain - a series of things linked, connected, or associated together (

Vacuum - a state of isolation from outside influences (

Steve Kerr is currently the Head Coach of the Golden State Warriors (2014-present). As Head Coach, Kerr won the Championship in 2015 and was named NBA Coach of the Year in 2016. Kerr won the NBA Championship 5 times as a player and holds the NBA career 3 point shooting % at .454.

In a Grantland article written by Bill Barnwell in April 2014 (, Barnwell wrote of a workout that “Shot Doctor”, Chip Engelland, had with Steve Kerr.

Kerr, then 36 years old and in the final seasons of his storied NBA playing career, was shooting inconsistently in his new limited role coming off the bench for the Portland Trailblazers. Because of those issues Engelland had Kerr sit on the bench for a couple minutes, sprint on the floor and take two shots, then sit back down repeatedly for 30 min. This is a model of what chain training is…drilling physical, mental, and emotional skills in a series that allows one motion to flow into the next to create the longest sequence necessary to complete a given task. Chain training is not just playing at game speed or making your training into more realistic situations. It’s the connecting of the physical, mental, and emotional dots in order to extend any chain of events in an athletic contest. There was nothing wrong with Kerrs’ shooting mechanics; however, his shooting was suffering due to a change in his mental and emotional circumstances.

There are so many factors in team sports that are outside of your control, and affect mental and emotional skills, whether you’re a coach or an athlete, so learning how to decrease distractions and manage your emotions are so important. Instead of Kerr working on shooting mechanics, they worked on chopping up the sequence into smaller chunks throwing the patterns, which the brain craves, off.

You are probably telling yourself right now that a coach you remember told you something like, “Do it because I said so.” Or, “That’s the way the drill is designed”…or something to that affect. That is what we call vacuum training. As in, “Do that because I said so, and now you don’t know why or how that skill will help you improve.”

We don’t believe in teaching skills for the sake of the skill, ie. Shooting for corners to get good at shooting for corners, throwing a check for the sake of throwing that check or fill in the blank. We believe skills exist to extend the chain of events. The goal should always be to learn a skill physically, mentally and emotionally in order to extend the chain as early as possible.

Like musical notes to a musician…
Like choreography to a dancer…
Like form movements to a martial artist.

Isn’t a chain of musical notes better then one single note?
Isn’t a choreographed dance better then one single dance move?
Aren’t multiple movements in a martial arts form better then one single movement?

The true beauty of sports is the self-awareness in feeling your movements to extend the chain as early as you can.

Chain training with the correct physical, mental, and emotional skills will lead you to being more prepared to combat the emotional highs and lows of competitive athletics, to be a better teammate and to be a higher performing athlete.