You’ve probably seen the viral video.
Steph Curry dribbles a basketball with one hand and with his other tosses a tennis ball back and forth with his trainer. This is just one in a long series of his typical, elaborate dribbling drills—only he’s also wearing some sort of goggles, the lenses of which seem to be flashing black. Curry uses them through all kinds of different drills; they’re a favorite tool for his trainer, Brandon Payne, who says that the goggles are one of the biggest reasons why Curry smashed the three-point record and became the first unanimous league MVP in history.
The goggles, however, are just an aspect of a greater philosophy that drives Curry and Payne’s training. Curry began working out with Payne in 2011 during the NBA lockout, driving an hour south of his home in Charlotte to Fort Mill, South Carolina, and Payne’s bland-looking warehouse, home to his private coaching business, Accelerate Basketball. It was here that Steph Curry started to become STEPH CURRY. Now Curry flies Payne to Oakland all the time so they can work out; Payne spends weeks if not months on the road with him. And all of this is because, in addition to his savvy strength training and physical conditioning, Payne is one of pro basketball’s foremost experts in what he calls “neurocognitive efficiency.”
Payne and Curry are a good fit because, the way Payne puts it, “So much of it comes down to the intelligence level of the player. You have to have players who can look past the drill, who can understand the multiple layers of benefit that each drill gives them. And Steph is that kind of guy.”
Curry is even better than Payne imagined, because he is uniquely intelligent, curious and unafraid to (a) ask questions, and (b) try new things.