Players – Understanding What it Takes to be Successful
There are many levels of playing the game of basketball. Recreation, church leagues, middle school, high school, college, and then there’s the professional level. As a basketball player you have to ask yourself these questions – Which level are you at right now? And which level do you want to get to? How hard are you willing to work? Being a highly skilled basketball player will depend on how much drive you have inside you, how many sacrifices you are willing to make, and how much time and dedication you are willing to put into improving your game. I am assuming that if you are reading this, you want to be a successful basketball player and you want to work hard. First, you must understand all the elements needed to help you succeed.
What Skills do I need?
Offense – Do you have good “offensive” basketball skills? Can you catch the ball, pass the ball, can you see the open player, can you set good screens, can you use a screen, can you execute the plays, can you rebound, can you drive to the basket, can you shoot the ball, can you make free throws, can you make all your lay ups? These things (and much more) are all needed to become a highly skilled basketball player.
For more info go to our Offense – The Basics Menu Page the second half of the page relates more to player skills, etc.
Ball Handling – Do you have good “ball handling / dribbling” skills? Ball handling is needed for every player and every position on the court. Having good ball handling skills takes a player to a whole new level of playing the game of basketball. Good ball handling skills allows a player to “see the floor” to find open players, open lanes to drive, the ability to drive and score, and to see defensive schemes (traps, etc). Ball handling allows a player the ability to become a “scoring machine” at any position they are playing.
For more info go to our Ball Handling Menu Page
Being a great Shooter – I didn’t say good shooter, I said great. Anyone can shoot the ball and make a few baskets. Players can even score 25 points a game and never take an outside shot (all layups, dunks, free throws, etc), but there are very few that can shoot with accuracy and consistency from the outside. These are the players that take 200 shots a day during the off season, and utilize great shooting form. There is no other way to become a great shooter other than to take hundreds of shots while using proper shooting form.
For more info go to our Shooting Basics Menu Page
Defense – Are you Fast, Athletic, Quick, and especially Aggressive? There are all needed to play great defense. Defense takes a “killer” instinct, and lots of heart and determination. Understanding that defense is played with “attitude” and is just as important as playing offense (more important than playing offense). Are you that player that gets the “stop” when the game is on the line, do you keep the player you are guarding from scoring, are you doing your part on defense to help your team succeed?
For more info go to our Defense Basic Principles Menu Page
Other than skills, what else is there?
Now that you are aware of the physical skills needed to be successful in basketball – these are other areas of the game that need to be considered…
Knowing / Understanding the Game – Do you watch lots of basketball on TV? I know a lot of players that say they really love basketball that never watch it on TV – this really doesn’t make much sense to me. The main premise behind watching basketball on TV is to “watch” and “learn” from other players that are already playing at a higher level, and then “emulate” (repeat) what they are doing. Watching on TV also gives a player the opportunity to see different skills, plays, schemes, and generally just learn more about the game. You know the old saying “The more you know” well that also pertains to basketball.
Leadership – Do you exhibit leadership skills on and off the court? Leadership can take on different roles such as being the leading scorer, the leading defender, the player that fires up the team and also keeps the team in “check” when needed, etc. There are also “silent” leaders (a leader doesn’t necessarily have to shout and scream, etc). This is the player that is intense, is consistent, and is very intimidating on the court. Overall a leader is that player that all the other players will listen to and follow.
Attitude / Mental Game – Attitude is “everything” (I know you’ve heard that one before, but it’s true). If you have a negative attitude, or you can’t get along with other players or the coaches, or you are always complaining about the refs, etc. You will have to change or you most likely won’t get the chance to play at the next level. A player must be “teachable” and must be able to “listen” to the coaches. How is your attitude? How does it affect your game? The “Mental” side of the game is also just as important as the “Physical” side of the game. It is so important that I have a whole menu page dedicated to it. I won’t get into it here much other than to say that the game of basketball is 10% skill and 90% mental so working on the “mental” side of the game is just as important as working on your physical skills.
For more info go to our Mental Toughness Menu Page
Academics – Do not overlook the importance of academics. Some of the most talented players never make it to the next level just because of poor grades. There are rarely any exceptions to academic rules. You don’t have to have a 4.0 average, but you can’t make it into college with a 1.5 average either. Make academics a priority even if you are not planning to play sports at the next level. Colleges cannot afford to sign players and then lose them to poor academics – it’s not worth their time. Poor academics can also project a poor attitude, or an “I don’t care” type of attitude. Be careful, play it safe, a good education is needed even if you don’t play sports at the next level.
Evaluation of your skills
Self-Evaluation of your basketball skills is critical to your game. Do you understand or know what your strengths and weaknesses are? If you don’t know then how will you ever improve? If you think you know – are you 100% sure of it? It will take a “non-partial” critique of your game by someone you don’t know in order to find out exactly what your game is lacking. No disrespect to any parents out there, but parents may not be the best choice to criticize their own child’s game. I am a parent, I coach high school basketball, but I still want someone else to critique my daughter’s game. Yes, I assist with my child with their basketball development, but I do understand that I am not the one that needs to be evaluating talent level. The best advice I can suggest is to go to at least 2 – 3 different professional basketball trainers and get “professional” evaluations. You must be able to take their constructive criticism and then work even harder to improve your game.
Are you a Multi-Sport player?
Is it helping or hurting your game? If you want to play basketball in college, you will need to be a highly skilled, and have a high basketball IQ. There are tons of multi-sport players out there, but there are only a few that excel in multi-sports. If you are not one of these few, you should take a moment and think about playing only those sports that will “compliment” the game of basketball. Playing other sports (especially if basketball is your main sport) can sometimes “impede” you from gaining the skills needed to play at the next level. Why spend time on a sport that will not help your game, when you can spend that time working on your basketball skills. Think about it. It could be the difference between playing basketball in college and not playing basketball in college.
Are you where you need to be?
1st through 5th Grade – Play Recreational or Church league basketball, work on basic skills (especially ball handling), be a manager on the middle school team.
6th Grade – Be on a competitive AAU team. Work on all the basic basketball skills, especially ball handling. Be a manager on the middle school team. Start attending basketball camps during the summer months.
Then click on “Find a Local Club”
Then click on “Find a Local Club”
7th Grade – Tryout for your middle school team, be able to help your team be successful. It would be even better if you are a “starter” or at least play a whole lot. Continue playing AAU during the off season. Attend basketball camps during the summer months.
8th Grade – Be a “starter” on your middle school team. Continue playing AAU during the off season (if you can play “up” that would be even better, as long as you get playing time). Start attending more advanced basketball camps during the summer months.
Note on “playing up” at the AAU level – It’s awesome if you play up on an AAU team but only if you are getting a lot of playing time. Don’t waste a year of AAU playing up if you only go in for a few minutes here and there. Playing time is the key at this point, so play at your regular age group if needed to get the playing time needed to develop your skills.
9th Grade – Tryout for your high school team and be able to help your varsity team be successful. It would be even better if you are a “starter” or at least play a whole lot. If you don’t play very much, ask the coach to move you to JV so you can get all the playing time you can. It is very important that you don’t sit the bench on Varsity as a 9th grader when you could be playing the majority of the game on JV. Playing time is crucial, and sitting the bench is not helping you develop your game. Continue playing AAU during the off season. Attend advanced / elite basketball camps during the summer months. Your Summer Workouts should start to intensify over the next few years – the off season will be the most important time for you to increase your basketball skills.
Need more info go to our Summer Workout for High School Players Menu Page
10th Grade – By the tenth grade you need to be a “starter” or at least play a whole lot. If you don’t play very much, ask the coach what you need to do to get additional playing time. Make sure that your high school coach is keeping your stats. Work harder than ever to develop your game. Continue playing AAU during the off season. Attend advanced / elite basketball camps during the summer months. At the end of your tenth grade year you want to attend your first college showcase (yes, play in front of college coaches). You can start getting contacted after September 1sttof your junior year in high school. This is the start of the most critical time of your “quest” to make it to the next level.
Need more info go to our Basketball Recruiting Basics Menu Page
11th Grade – By the eleventh grade you definitely need to be a “starter” on Varsity. Make sure your high school coach is keeping your stats, and he gives you the results. Also make sure that someone is video taping your games so you have something to send to colleges when they ask you for a video (DVD). And by now you have started sending out letters (or emails) to lots of colleges. Your grades should be where they need to be, and you should be discussing when to take the SAT / ACT tests with your guidance counselor. Continue playing AAU during the off season, hopefully you are on a team that makes it to the Nationals, or at least attends team showcases. Attend advanced / elite basketball camps during the summer months. Plan to attend as many college showcases as you can, and remember that they are only available during certain months of the year so sign up early.
Need more info go to our College Basketball Showcases Menu Page
12th Grade – This is it, your final year playing high school basketball. By this time, you are successful and have made an impact on the team. Prior to starting your senior year, you should have attended showcases in July, and are signed up for more in September / October. You should have interest from several colleges by this time. If not, send out more letters right away. Have a good senior season, have some fun. If you are not signed by the end of your High School season, there will be one more chance to attend a few showcases in April (but sign up early as possible). Some colleges may call you and invite you to a tryout – so be prepared.
Here is a handout that may be helpful to you…
If you want to play basketball at a higher level – Basketball must be your passion! The dedication and sacrifice needed to excel in the sport is great, and only those that work hard will succeed. Players must remember to critique their game as well as getting professional assistance to get a more “in depth” look at their skills. If you want to play at the next level, or even if you just want to be a great player in high school – It will still take a lot of hard work.
Hard work is the key to success at anything you do in life. Good luck!