A new basketball season is upon us! So many opportunities and challenges will present themselves in the next 4-5 months. I am ecstatic to see what this year holds.
Every year, I get questions from prospective players and parents about what they can do to make a team. As I’ve gained more experience, my answer to that question has changed. Certainly, things like skill level, athleticism and size are important. However, the quality that can really set someone apart is his ability to control the controllables.
What does that statement mean? In the game of basketball, there are many things that are out of our control. We cannot control whether a shot goes in, whether we get a certain rebound, or whether our team wins every game. There are a number of variables that go into those occurrences that are out of our control. We should attempt to do those things, but sometimes they will not happen. So, what can we control? I believe there are three things that a player can control when it comes to basketball. For any player trying out for our program, these are the three things I would tell them to control every day if they want to put themselves in the best possible position to be part of our program. They are:
Effort speaks for itself. Every coach will notice the player who goes 100% on every drill. The player who never has a bad practice because he always gives everything he has. Regardless of their skill level, those players bring great effort every day. A lot of guys play hard in games. However, not as many go all out in layup drills, defense drills, and other things that less committed players might find ‘boring’. Great teammates and players never get bored with getting better. If you want to separate yourself, give great energy all the time.
Attitude is completely within our control. We can’t control what happens to us, but we completely control how we respond to it. Every player, regardless of basketball talent, can be a great teammate. Every player can be enthusiastic about coming to practice every day. One of my favorite books is Jon Gordon’s book The Energy Bus. I love this book because it talks about being an energy giver (and not an energy vampire). It takes no talent and when everyone does it, the results are incredible. It really is true that you get out what you put in. If you come with a great attitude every day, obstacles become challenges, and your positive energy rubs off on others. Whether you are a starter or the 12th man, everyone should do this. Those that do are sure to catch our eyes.
The only physical trait I put on the list is conditioning. Many athletes, regardless of sport, start strong but fade at the end of games because of a lack of conditioning. Every player can be in great condition. You don’t have to be able to pass, shoot or dribble to be in great shape. However, most fail to do this because getting in great shape is hard work. I believe our teams have won a handful of games the past couple years because of superior conditioning. If you come to tryouts in shape, you have to get in shape.
So, for those looking for an edge come tryouts, those are the controllables I would encourage you to focus on. They are staples of our program, and those who do them give themselves a leg up. Let’s make it a great season!