My basketball playing background:
- I was a 3-year Varsity starter and an All-County basketball player at Watkins Mill High School (4A public school) in Gaithersburg, MD. I was 6’1”, 175 lbs. and possessed decent (but certainly not great) athleticism.
- I earned a scholarship to play D-II basketball at Elon College in 1994 (Elon transitioned to D-I between my junior and senior year). SIDE NOTE: it is now Elon University
I share this quick overview of my basketball playing background simply as a frame of reference.
Knowing what I know now, below is a list of 7 mistakes I made when I played. It is embarrassing and humbling for me to admit these issues, but feel it is important for me to do so to help today’s players avoid the same mistakes.
These 7 mistakes are understandable, but absolutely unacceptable.
1) I only did the minimum. I got to practice 5 minutes before it started and left the moment it was over. I was an above average shooter. But I could have been a great shooter if I had put in the extra work. I always practiced hard (effort was never my problem); I just never did any extra.
2) I only played on half of the court. I played mediocre defense at best. I gambled for steals, rarely boxed out, and only took one charge in my career (because I couldn’t get out of the way in time and got run over!). I didn't take pride on defense and didn't take it personal if my man scored.
3) I focused too hard on box score stats (points, assists, etc.) and not enough on the invisible stats (charges taken, deflections, screens set, etc.). Win or lose, I would literally wake up early on Wednesdays and Saturdays to check our team’s box score in the Washington Post.
4) I focused on things I had no control over. At least half of my communicating during games was directed at the referees. I spent as much time worrying about the refs as I did about myself. I most certainly didn’t Play Present.
5) I took a lot of bad shots. I often took a good shot for myself instead of getting a great shot for a teammate. I wouldn't go as far as to say I was a ball hog, but I definitely had selfish tendencies. I didn't put the trust in my teammates that they deserved. Regardless of time and score, if I was even the slightest bit open, I let it fly!
6) Overall I had a good attitude, but like many high school players, I thought I knew best. I wasn’t always the most coachable. Even though my high school coach had been coaching longer than I had been alive (at the time), I was often stubborn. No matter how many times he said 'zig', I would still 'zag.'
7) I liked basketball. I enjoyed basketball. But I didn't love basketball. Basketball didn't become my burning passion until after college. It was something I was pretty good at and something I had fun playing... but I wasn't a student of the game and I most certainly wasn’t a gym rat.
I currently serve as the strength & conditioning coach at DeMatha Catholic High School, travel the world as a respected clinician and am the proud father of The Born Backcourt (2 ½ year old twin boys, Luke & Jack). I would be irate if any of the players I worked with, or if my own sons, did any of the above.
I sincerely hope that sharing these 7 mistakes will help today's players avoid similar patterns and enable them truly maximize their basketball playing potential.
Along those lines, in order to maximize your basketball playing potential, you have to stay strong and mobile. Here are 5 Yoga poses that will increase strength, balance, flexibility and mobility when you need it most, during the season:
Train hard. Eat smart. Get better.
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