The summertime is where dreams become reality for athletes. For basketball players, the summertime means joining an AAU or travel basketball team, traveling from state to state and competing against the top players around the country. It’s the chance for players to play in front of collegiate coaches in hopes of gaining their interest for a potential scholarship. However, the truth of the matter is, you may only get 30 seconds to impress that coach.
So how can a young aspiring basketball player make their dream a reality?
The extra hours in the summertime! With no classes to attend, no homework, and no test to study for this two to three month period is prime time for developing new skills, getting stronger, and taking one’s game to the next level.
Here are 5 tips for taking advantage of the extra time in the summer:
Identify areas of Improvement:
What are the most urgent improvements needed?
For the perfectionist we could get better at everything, but, unfortunately, two to three months is just not enough time to master the game of basketball. As an athlete, it is important to be realistic and understand that becoming great at anything takes time. Rome wasn’t built in one day, neither was Steph Curry or Klay Thompson. At M14, we believe that life lessons can be taught through the game of basketball such as hard work and patience. In order to figure out what improvements are most urgent, you need to prioritize by making a list. First, write down two to three areas that you would like to expand your game in the most. That could be extending your range to the three-point line, breaking your defender down off the dribble, or finishing through contact. Next, list out the skills associated to those areas. For example, next to extending your range to the three-point line you would write: shooting form, footwork, and strength (no particular order). This will later help you develop a clear plan you can execute.
How much extra time do you actually have?
Everyone has the same 24 hours – how are you spending yours? We’ve all heard that saying, but how many of us really breakdown the time we spend on each activity each day. Another life lesson we teach through the game of basketball is time management. By figuring out how much extra time you have, you can narrow down what you can actually get accomplished. Being realistic is an important key to successfully using your time. If you give yourself too little or too much time to get something done it can be detrimental to your success down the road. Write down to the minute what a normal summer day will consist of; from what time you will wake up to what time you will eat each meal. From there, you should be able to identify the free time you have in your daily schedule.
As an athlete it is a very good idea to set goals. Goal setting helps promote motivation, commitment, and dedication; which help athletes stay focused on what they are trying to accomplish. Setting goals and tracking them along the way can help build confidence. Often times as athletes we forget how far we have come and how far we still have to go. To help remind yourself of the progress you have made, set mini goals that are small victories on the way to accomplishing the big goal. An example of a mini goal for extending my range to the three-point line would be: making 60% of my threes when practicing after one month of training.
What tools do you have to get better?
Do you currently work with a basketball or strength trainer? Do you have access to a shooting gun? Are you on an AAU/Travel team? Are signed up for any camps? Seeking out professionals to help guide you in the correct direction can be a very useful tool. Michael Jordan was once quoted saying, “You can practice shooting eight hours a day, but if your technique is wrong, then all you become is very good at shooting the wrong way. Get the fundamentals down and the level of everything you do will rise.” A professional can help you maximize your time by teaching you the correct techniques through focused training.
How are you going to hold yourself accountable?
Getting better at something is all about repetition. Repetition can get boring, so setting up a support system to hold you accountable is imperative to staying on track. Daily reminders are a good way to stay on track. We use them subconsciously everyday from the street signs with the speed limit to our alarm that wakes us up in the morning. Staying on track for a goal is no different. To help with that, list two places where you will post your goals and daily schedule. Then list two people who you will tell your goal (mom, dad, coach or trainer)- who will support you and hold you accountable to your goal.