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September 6, 2018

7 Tips for Being a Sick Basketball Player

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As a D1 basketball player for Northwestern, I found that by using these tips it helped make me a better player. These seven tips will help you with achieving your goal of becoming a better basketball player and they will most certainly help you play at the collegiate level. Some tips are easier than others, but they ultimately will all be critical in your success as a high school or college player.

1: Set Goals

Setting goals and sticking to them will help you become a better player— no doubt. Whether you want a better three-point shooting percentage, a higher free throw percentage, or you want to improve your ball handling, you have to be dedicated to working towards your personal goals. The offseason is extremely important in this aspect. This is when you can work day-in-and-day-out on improving your overall game. Even when you do not feel like showing up and putting the work in because you want an off day, you have to persevere and do it anyway.

“Success is not an accident, success is actually a choice” – Stephen Curry

2: Watch Film

Watching film is also a huge part of college basketball. In the days before each game, you will watch film on opposing teams, and your coaches will have detailed scouting reports on each player and the team. Additionally, you will watch your team in each game— the good, the bad, along with what needs work—and this is how you get better. So pay attention!  Coaches will watch film with each player to show them how they did in each game, and what they need personally improve upon, this will help the team as a whole.

NOTE: Watching basketball games or clips of players that play your position is beneficial. If you focus on watching certain aspects of their game, such as how they get open, what moves they use to score when they get the ball, or how they defend, then you can potentially get better by working to incorporate those aspects into your game.

3: Outwork Everyone

You do not have to be the most athletic person, but if you outwork people, you will get the attention of college coaches. Sacrificing your body— diving on the floor, going after every loose ball, and taking charges shows you are all in for your team— not just yourself. These effort can make the difference in a game, it will show a coach that you will whatever it takes to help your team win. The small things in basketball are often the big things because they add up— they create extra possessions, extra shots, and also give your team momentum. As a result, they become the difference between winning and losing.

“Hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard” – Kevin Durant

4: Know Your Strengths, Weaknesses, and Your Role

Work on improving your weaknesses while always striving to get better and more consistent in areas of strength. Come up with routines to work on your shot, handles, and  aggressive drives. If you stick to a routine and push yourself, then you will continually get better— strengthening your overall game. You will become a more well-rounded player and will have more to contribute on the floor. For the most part, working on improving your game comes in the offseason. In the basketball season, however, it is also important to know your role on your team and get really good at it. If you are a shooter, then you should go early or stay late and get up a bunch of extra shots. If you are a point guard, you should make sure you’re putting in extra work on continually improving your ball handling skills. If you are a post, make sure you are working on being effective around the basket. Coaches in high school often use practices more for creating team chemistry by running through plays and focusing on team opponents, opposed to individual skill work. It is essential to still get this skill work in by putting in extra time at the gym which will lead to better success.

“My attitude is that if you push me towards something that you think is a weakness, then I will turn that perceived weakness into a strength” – Michael Jordan

5: Play against players who are better than you

If you want to become the best player you can, then you have to play against people who are more talented than you and will challenge you both offensively and defensively. This will teach you how to overcome adversity and you will be able to try new moves, strengthen your strengths, and gain more confidence. As you continually play with better players, your level of play will rise and you will find yourself being more confident and a better overall player.

6: Communication is key

One thing that is not stressed as much in high school, but is a huge part of college basketball, is communicating on the floor. If you do not talk in college, you will not play. It is better to make this a habit in high school so you come into college already used to it and are not having to force yourself to communicate to your teammates on the floor during practices and games. It can be very uncomfortable at first, but after you get used to it, it comes naturally. Plus, it will only help your teammates in the long run.

“Effective teamwork begins and ends with communication” – Mike Krzyzewski

7: Make sure to get in strength and conditioning training

At the high school level, not everyone sees the value in lifting and getting in extra conditioning. But if you are looking to play at the collegiate level, then being in top physical condition will be the key to success. Additionally, if you are looking to play at the college level, you will have an advantage because you will already be in shape,  therefore you will be prepared for the more challenging college workouts. If you are able to, getting a trainer to provide you with routines/workouts for exercising can be an excellent tool in formalizing your workout plan. They keep you accountable and they push you to go beyond your limits to get better and since sessions are scheduled, it ensures you remain consistent with your routines.