All too often, the majority of people don’t truly begin wanting to do something, until it no longer is possible to do. This leaves people with one, very uneasy and depressing feeling, regret. Sit around a restaurant or an airport and listen to the conversations people are having about their lives, and it doesn’t take long to realize that very few people actually realize any goals they have set for themselves when they were young. Often people don’t even realize that they are letting their goals, dreams, and desires slip through their grasps because the window of opportunity was so small that they didn’t even see it because they were wasting their time doing something else.
At the Hoop Group I come across thousands of student-athletes each year who claim the same end goal, playing basketball at the collegiate level. However, as I look at the majority of the players who have this goal, I see very few actually giving everything they have on a consistent basis to make this dream a reality. The beauty of the game of basketball is there is no limit to the amount of work you can put into your game because you can practice by yourself! In a recent conversation with a local high school coach, he stated, “I spend all summer working on the players skill work because if the players have skill anything is possible”. Yes, physical athletic ability is a major factor in the sport of basketball, but if you are limited in those areas it means you need to work that much harder on your ball handling, shooting, and passing, and you need to study the game to figure out ways in which you can use your mind to gain advantages over more athletic players.
In my 10 years that I have coached, middle school, high school, college, AAU, and numerous camps, I have witnessed players time and time again, waste God given talent and have no idea that they are doing it. George Lucas, one of the greatest film directors and hardest workers of all time, said, “Working hard is very important. You're not going to get anywhere without working extremely hard.” It seems like common sense, but the common thread amongst the greatest people who have ever lived is mastering their craft through extreme repetition and practice. Malcolm Gladwell, in his book The Outliers, through research on the topic, came to the conclusion that you needed 10,000 hours of practice at your craft before you master it. That’s almost 30 years if you are practicing for an hour a day. So let me ask you this question, how close are you to mastering your craft? How close are you to realizing your dreams?
I am going to offer 5 pieces of advice that you MUST follow if you are going to get where you want to be. If you are truly serious about becoming a college basketball player at the highest level this list should provide some structure for you.
1)Find a workout buddy who has the same goals as you.
Even the hardest workers in the world have those days when they would rather sleep in, or they would rather go to the movies with their friends. However, if you are able to find one other person who also has the same goal as you, it becomes far less tedious putting time into your craft. When I was coaching at GlenOak High School in Canton, Ohio, I witnessed two of the hardest workers I have ever seen in the game of basketball, CJ and Erik Mccollum. Although it never seemed like they were straining to work hard because they were always working out together, while talking about life, girls, and who was a better shooter. Religiously they were in the gym together getting shots up, but they always had each other to lean on when one of them wasn’t quite in the mood to work.
2)If you are not passionate about it, then don’t do it
If you are ever going to be great at something, and make it to the next level, you need to really have a passion for what you are doing. Never do something because you think it is going to make someone else happy or you think it is what you are supposed to do. The players who are the best are the ones who love the game of basketball (or whatever they are practicing) more than life itself, and they look forward to getting better. You can never go back in time, so don’t waste time doing something that you don’t want to do. Spend those hours figuring out a better goal, and attack that goal!!
3)Every day is a new day, and each day needs attacked like the first day
No matter how much success you have had in your basketball career to this point, you are a lazy Summer away from digging a hole that you wont be able to get out of. We have all seen the middle school player they develops early and is ranked high by the scouting services, so he or she stops working on their game. Attack every single day like the first day you decided this is what you wanted to do. It’s the only way to maximize your time, and continue to see improvement.
4)If you got it, stop doing it
This is the mistake I see most often with players, and this is the mistake that has held players back in the sport for years. If you are good at something, and it is no longer hard for you to do, then STOP DOING IT. Now obviously in basketball you need to fine tune skills forever, ala Ray Allen shooting 500 jump shots a day. However, too many players do what they know they can do because lets face it, it feels good to have success. Every day you work on your game, you should try one new thing, you’ve never been able to do, and work on that for at least 20 minutes. If you get it then the next day work on something new to continue to round yourself out as a COMPLETE player.
5)Playing in games doesn’t mean your working on your game
Granted, I am a strong proponent of AAU basketball, but the modern age player is bigger, stronger, and faster than ever, but skill work seems to be suffering. Part of this is overhyped by old timers who claim basketball was purer back in the day, but there is a definite lack of skill work and skill development in grassroots basketball caused by too many games and not enough work! I think that the best way to approach the game versus development is for every hour you spend in a game, you should spend five hours working on your game. This will allow you to improve and enhance your game because often while you’re in the game you will instinctively go back to what is comfortable to you.
BONUS) GET UP AND GET IN THE GYM
Even if you don’t feel like it, GET IN THE GYM. Even if you are tired, GET IN THE GYM. Even if you think your friends are doing something really fun, GET IN THE GYM. Even if you got into a fight with your boyfriend of girlfriend, GET IN THE GYM. Even if your teacher yelled at you, GET IN THE GYM. There are no excuses. This is your time to get better and only you can control your destiny. Stop looking for people to rank you higher and get you exposure. If you were on your game the colleges will come because you will be successful!! It is up to you, don’t look back in 10 years and say I wish I would have put time into my game. Don’t have any regrets!