Athletes, you must know the answers to the following questions or you won’t achieve your full potential!
Am I the biggest, strongest, most athletic player at the level I currently play?
Will I be at the next level I hope to play at?
My hunch is, the majority of you answered both of those questions with a resounding NO!
You’re not alone. The Lebron James, Candace Parker, Zion Williamson type athletes are few and far between. However, the majority of players that play at a high level are not more athletic, they just find a way to maximize their full potential.
They chose to embrace this secret before it was too late. “It’s not about how big you are; it’s how smart you play.”
The problem for me was, I didn’t learn this until later in my career. As a young player, I trained at the level I currently was at, instead of training for the next level. This led to periods of frustration and discouragement when I got around quicker and stronger players during my freshman year in college. I tried to play an athletic and strong game instead of learning to play the smart game.
I hope to help you avoid some of the pain and struggles I experienced by understanding this one thing:
Any player, regardless of size, can develop into a trusted playmaker for their teammates and coaches.
Before we continue, let’s define the word playmaker. A playmaker is a player who creates offensive advantages for themselves and their teammates. Most players are inward-focused and think, “how can I create a shot for myself? How can I score more points?”
A playmaker thinks beyond that. Think Steph Curry, Sue Bird, and Steve Nash. All three are incredible scorers, while also possessing the understanding of when the shot is for them to take, and when they must create a shot for their teammates. AKA playmakers!
The question then becomes, how do you take what these great players do at the highest level, translate it into your game, and become a trusted playmaker for your teammates and coaches.
Before I share the answer, imagine this: you catch the ball on the left-wing and suddenly realize that your opponent is closing out hard and fast. You peek at the rim, fake the shot forcing the defender to fly by, and you aggressively drive the open lane to the basket.
Pause: my hunch is you’re already imagining yourself finishing with a bucket, maybe even getting an ‘and-1.’ The crowd going wild, the glory, the feeling we get from scoring…it’s intoxicating. That used to be my only thought as well.
Here’s where the shift comes, and it happened for me after my freshman year in college. The fact is, the majority of the time, against better defenses at higher levels, that drive to the rim is not for you to score. That drive, which you must make with a plan, is to engage a second defender to create some advantage for your team. That drive isn’t open for most of us at the next level. We have to have more in our bag.
That advantage often comes from a kick-out pass forcing the defense into a long closeout leading to a wide-open shot for your teammate. Or it could be a long closeout your teammate uses to drive again, resulting in another opportunity continuing the cycle of advantage basketball.
You become a playmaker by shifting your mindset from “me” to “we.” It’s simple, but not always easy.
Understand, though, there is a balance. “We” still means, at times, you need to be the one to shoot, while other times, you need to create the shot for someone else. The great players understand when each one needs to happen.
Once you begin thinking like this and performing like a playmaker, you become more valuable to your team, your teammates enjoy playing with you more, and your coach will trust you with greater responsibility on the court. And that’s what you work for, that’s the type of player you deserve to be.
Join us at a PGC Playmaker College this summer to discover how to be the smartest player on the floor while developing the mental toughness, habits and focus necessary for greatness, both on the court and in life.
THINK THE GAME
Join PGC Basketball and discover how to become a playmaker, lead your team, and run the show.
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PGC Basketball provides intense, no-nonsense basketball training for players and coaches. Our basketball camps are designed to teach players of all positions to play smart basketball, be coaches on the court, and be leaders in practices, games and in everyday life.
We combine our unique PGC culture with a variety of teaching methods and learning environments to maximize the learning potential of those that attend our sessions. In addition to spending 6-7 hours on the court each day, lessons will be reinforced through classroom sessions and video analysis.
Our goal at PGC is to empower you with the tools to fulfill your basketball dreams, while also assisting you in experiencing the joy of the journey.