Leon Rice on building fun into your program

The basketball season typically is described as a “grind” but is that how you want your athletes to feel about playing a sport? Sure, everything can’t be fun and games all the time, but when the pendulum swings too much the other way, then players may lose sight of why they love the game and lose some of their desire to play.

I heard Leon Rice, the head men’s coach at Boise State, speak about this topic awhile back. He says he works his players incredibly hard during the season but provides them with unplanned, sporadic breaks when they are least expecting it. “It’s our job not to take the love of the game out of them. Trust me, we grind we do plan fun into our program as well,” he says.

Rice recalls one time after a tough loss for his team, players arrived at practice the next day. They aligned on the baseline expecting a tough zig-zag drill but instead were dismissed back to the locker room where pizza and a movie were waiting for them. It’s little things like this that keep players wanting to put in the work as your season pushes forward. Rice says it’s common for his players to stay after practice on their in February and March to shoot and spend time with teammates.

He says the small breaks in the grind are a major reason why players still have so much to give by the end of the season.