Like most people, a lot of basketball players are looking for that one thing that will create an immediate impact for themselves and their team. Let’s take a look at five things any player can do to gain immediate improvement.
There is a basic human instinct that is as old as ‘fight or flight’. When a person feels threatened or under pressure, our body automatically reacts with basic physiological responses. These automatic reactions can hinder athletic performance, if we let them. It is vital to understand how our body and our mind responds to playing under pressure so we can control those automatic responses and keep them from hindering performance.
I used to run a basketball camp called the 87% Basketball Camp. Coaches would, on occasion, see a player wearing a T-shirt with that name and almost invariably their comment would be,
“Hey, what’s this 87 percent stuff? You gotta give 100 percent, Man.”
Often they took it a step further. “You gotta give 110 percent.”
Do you think 110 percent is enough? Some coaches demand 150 percent, others want 200 percent. I look for the athlete who gives an honest 87 percent, who knows it, and who is constantly trying to add 2 percent here and 2 percent there.
As division one strength and conditioning coaches my boss Ray Eady and I had not intended to create what has become known as the go-to conditioning drill to get basketball players into game ready shape. All we wanted was for them to stop running and testing the mile run as part of their pre-season conditioning plan.
THINK THE GAME
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If you aren’t trying to improve your communication skills and trying to have more of an impact on the atmosphere you are playing in, you are neglecting a big part of sport. Good, intelligent communication is important in just about everything, not just sports. This is a very broad and important subject about which many books have been written, but I am going to touch on just a few ideas for you to consider. The essential point to understand is that it is necessary to make a constant effort to improve your communication.
I have studied champions at every level, and a few things have become obvious. Champions do simple things really well and have a ridiculous attention to detail. After examining these championship characteristics, I have put together what I believe are ten steps, essential, to athlete success. By themselves, these habits are not special. What is special, and very rare, is finding an athlete, that will close the gap between knowing these steps are essential to success and actually doing them, CONSISTENTLY.
A 1992 study of 8,000 youth athletes found that “having fun” was their primary reason for participating in a sport and yet more and more frequently, we see this primary reason slowly begin to fade. In many cases, the fun factor of a sport will take a backseat to factors such as getting a college scholarship, winning, pleasing parents or coaches; the list can go on and on. In the worst cases, the fun factor of a sport is replaced by stress inducing factors that eliminate the fun altogether.
We talkin’ about practice. Not just practice, we talkin’ about pre-practice. The champions approach to practice is to play with MORE focus, preparation and love than they do in games. Why? It’s more difficult to bring your passion to practice on a daily basis but the key to championship performance is to learn to master the boring and love the mundane details as much as you love to play on the stage in front of the bright lights.