From as far back as I can remember, sports was my passion. More specifically, basketball was my passion. I loved being a kid and letting my imagination run wild. Day after day, I would go out to my driveway and beat the best players in the world in epic one-on-one battles. Those blacktop wins pushed me towards the beginning of basketball obsession. This obsession continued to push me throughout high school and into the early stages of my college career.
Now when I arrived for my freshman year at Emmanuel College, to say I was a lightweight would be an understatement. At that time I was about 6’1 and weighed 165 lbs soaking wet. Despite my lack of size, I still found ways to be a good basketball player; and I really felt my ability was because I continually played with a child-like passion. However, this passion ran into a brick wall my freshman year of college. That’s when I learned that there is a big difference between college and high school sports. In college, everyone is bigger, stronger, faster, and smarter than your average high school athlete; and I soon found out that my lack of speed and strength led to a major disadvantage. I had to find a way to bring value to my team, or my career was going to be over quick.
That year I was about the 10th or 11th guy on the team to get on the floor, never playing more than about 10 minutes per game. Looking back, those minutes are ones I would rather forget. Every time I would get on the court, I would be completely beat up—not just by the other team, but also by my own thoughts. I was so far in my own head that I began to make unforgivable mistakes. I would commit uncharacteristic turnovers, miss wide-open shots, and it even got to the point where I couldn’t catch a simple pass.
Needless to say, the first half of my freshman year was definitely one to forget. My teammates had lost confidence in me, and in turn, I lost confidence in myself. Going into our Christmas break, I contemplated long and hard if college basketball was even worth it anymore. I thought of so many excuses to run from my newly found basketball struggles. I had completely given up on myself. As I was home for the holidays, I went to the driveway at my parents’ house, forgot about my struggles for one afternoon, and just played carefree basketball. I quit thinking about how bad I was playing and began to replay the stories of how I could dominate the best players the NBA had to offer. That afternoon, my game and my mind began to change. I felt rejuvenated and found my love for the game all over again.
That afternoon I discovered three simple steps to finding the best me, and I began to change—both my game and my mindset.
1. Stop lying and start loving
To be the best version of myself that I could be, I had to stop telling myself lies about how bad I was. I had to stop believing those lies and stop being so focused on all the negative things about my game. I let those things effect my approach to basketball, even to the point that I started hating basketball. To stop this trend, I had to re-visit my childlike attitude. I went to the gym and began to just “mess around.” Through the use of my imagination, I re-found my love for the game! I had finally stopped lying to myself and began loving the game again.
Struggling to be your best you? Re-visit why you first fell in love with the game of basketball.
2. hard work & preparation
Once I found why I loved basketball again, it was time to get back to work. While I was being down on myself, I had developed the habit of looking for excuses instead of focusing on my preparation and hard work. I had to change that. I immediately went from barely getting in the gym to work on my game to spending every extra moment of my day there. I went to practice early and then stayed late. I went late at night, and I went in between classes. I had to stop “hoping” to be the best player I could be. Instead, it was time for me to work at it.
Ready to be your best you? Work harder than you’ve ever worked before.
3. breathe life with positive thoughts
I once heard PGC’s Dena Evans share a story about how she came out of a slump in her career. She had to write down positive things about herself. So as I was getting my “swagger” back, I had to stop with the negative thoughts and find ways to feed myself with positive ones. Following Dena’s lead, I began to write down things I did well in practices. I would write down five positive things I did at the end of every practice. I still thought of the mistakes I would make, but because I was focusing on positive thoughts, the mistakes became less visible in my mind.
The best you doesn’t focus on the negative. Begin writing down the positive things you do every day.
THINK THE GAME
Join PGC Basketball and discover how to become a playmaker, lead your team, and run the show.
As I continued to follow these three steps, the second half of my freshman year became an amazing experience. I had a complete 180 degree turn in my energy and effectiveness on the court. I went from a shy little freshman to a confident basketball player. Towards the end of the year, I went from sitting a the end of the bench to becoming a constant rotational player. I even earned a start! I ended the season shooting 45% from behind the arc and our team went on to win a NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP. Not only was the success of winning more enjoyable than I could have ever imagined, but my childlike visions and dreams came true. I had chosen to be the author of my own story. I began to love who I was, put in the hard work and preparation, and change my outlook with positive thoughts. Those were the best three decisions that I could have ever made.
I want to share with you a problem I have faced. It’s a problem all athletes face, and one that can be extremely frustrating and discouraging throughout a career.
The problem is players put in an immense amount of time, energy, and effort, but struggle to see their improvement.
Athletes, this is for you. We all want to play more minutes, have more fun, and win more games. But there’s a big problem that we all succumb to that’s holding us back from reaching our full potential.
What can you start doing today to win more games?
Join PGC Director Tyler Coston, as he shares four ways to improve your mental toughness, habits and focus necessary for winning more games.
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.