5 Things a Basketball Player Can Do Right Now To Become Better!

I spend hours watching game film and editing videos. I also spend just as many hours in the gym with my son and also watching his basketball games. I am amazed at how talented many student-athlete's are. Some of them can seemingly jump out of the gym or turn on a dime, effortlessly. There are also a group of kids who may never be able to grab the rim or may never get the coveted "hot streak" that brings the crowds to their feet. There is always room for improvement and I hope that the following pointers will help you become a better player and stand out.

point1. Practice on your own.

On Tuesday and Wednesday you spent a good hour and a half at your team practice and you worked really hard. During practice you received valuable information and had a chance to review all the techniques that you already know. Although practice is a great place to start getting better, it is only the beginning. You actually become a better player when you take what you learned in practice and practice on your own. The following week you will be able to show your coaches that you were practicing on your own. It will show.

point2. Balance your schedule.

There is more to being a student-athlete than being the best player in the gym. Your priority should be geared towards your academic success. Your sport of choice is an extracurricular activity and you should treat it as such. Although we all strive for straight A’s, quite often, student-athlete’s are more likely to be in the 3.5 to 3.0 range, which is not a bad range to be in. It is a slight tragedy in life if you are vying for a position at your favorite school, yet you cannot enter the school because your GPA is too low. [Side note: Walk-on players also have to have GPAs that are acceptable for academic admissions. If you do not make the grade academically you may be passed over even if you are a great player.] If you do not enter the school of your choice because of your grades, it is not the end of the world, but you should always strive to do your best in whatever endeavor you pursue. Having a high academic GPA can often help you succeed in the athletic community even if you may not be the best player in the gym.

If you should find yourself slipping academically here are a few things you can do to get back on track.

1. Tell your parents/guardians. Your parents/guardians want to see you succeed and will quite often do whatever it takes to help you achieve that which you strive for. Whether you want to be the best gymnast, chess player, electrician. They don’t care, they only care that you do your best and if you have an issue, let them know.

2. Tell your teacher/coach. Teachers and coaches were once students. Quite often, they are still students somewhere. They understand the importance of juggling a schedule and are not new to a slip up here and there. If you are having trouble with the material they can help. They are valuable resources and can quite often lead you to a great tutor or online resource such as YouTube or the Khan Academy. Ask for their help and you may be pleasantly surprised at just how far they will go to help you succeed. Your success equates to their success. Show me a teacher or coach who does not want you to succeed and I will show you someone who you need to stay far, far away from.

3. Talk to a friend. Find the kid in your class who has a great understanding of the material and see if they can help. Lunch time pow-wows and after school study groups can do wonders for your grades, your friendships, and your confidence.

4. If you cannot reach any of the above, talk to your Principal or Guidance Counselor. My high school principal was Ms. Reynolds and my guidance counselors were Ms. Monevisidas and Mr. Bryant. The P.E. coach was Mike D’antoni. I wish I would have talked to them more. Now that I am a parent, I understand how hard those folks work to ensure that their students get a good education. They are concerned about your well being and are willing to offer assistance with whatever resource you need to get those grades up there.

By making sure that you are taking care of yourself academically you will be able to spend more time in the gym practicing.

point3. Rest.

Many injuries that players endure are not a direct result of a physical contact that they receive while playing. More often, their injuries are a direct result of overuse. It is great to be a super athlete who coaches can count on to win games. But you also must take time off to give your body time to heal the little tears that happen in your muscle fibers when you are exercising. Rest and relaxation does not mean that you have to give up your sport. Soaking in an ice bath, stretching, reading a good book, or hanging out with friends will allow your body a chance to recuperate so that you can be tip-top for the next performance.

point4. Fake, before you lead someone into a pick.

Imagine this scenario. You are the ball handler and you call for a pick or you notice in your peripheral that a teammate on your right is setting a pick for you. The pick will be more effective for you as a ball handler if you fake to the left first, then lead the offensive player into the pick. Ball handler: Keep your head up as you move through the screen. Picker: Roll with your hand up ensuring that with your opposite hand you seal the opposing player away from the ball in play. Ball handler: pass the ball for an easy layup.

point5. Stop dribbling so much.

Pass the ball when advancing up the court. That’s not to say that every time you are moving up the court that you should throw hail Mary’s. Look for the open player in the front court. If you are the point guard, get the ball up the court with a pass, then retrieve it again once all the other players in the field have caught up. If you are on the receiving end of the pass and you can score the bucket, then score the bucket. If you are on the receiving end of the pass and you cannot score the bucket, then manage the ball until the point guard gets there. Pass the ball to the point guard once it is safe to do so, then find your spot.

While analyzing games, I see so often where a player is wide open in the front court but the person handling the ball is oblivious because their head is down while dribbling through two or more players. If you are going to expend energy, expend your energy on defense. Do not dribble 25 times where 1 pass will do.

pointBONUS. Follow through with the play your coach or the point guard calls.

One of the main benefits of playing the game is that you have teammates. In a controlled effort you all spend time together in gyms running through plays over and over again. Scenario: Coach calls “motion” from the bench. The point guard signals motion then passes the ball. 95% of the time, the very next thing that happens has nothing to do with the play the coach called for nor is it even necessary to deviate from the play. The player takes the ball and does what he wants to do instead of following the directions. What is the point of all the practice, the coaching, and the preparation, if you are not going to work together as a team? As individuals we are strong, but as a team working together we can create an impenetrable force that wins consistently and brings out the best in every player. The plays are designed to score buckets and if you follow them, you will score buckets easier than if you try to dribble through 5 players with your head down.

Maury "Super M@uryo" Osbourne is a former Marine, an Award Winning Film Producer, a fantastic photographer and a pretty nice guy. He runs SpotlightME.tv and works relentlessly to be successful at his business. You can reach him at 602.703.2638.

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