With the start of the high school season approaching fast, it is time for you to ask yourself a significant question…
What separates you?
What is it about your game that separates you from every other player?
Are you as massive as Dwight Howard?
Are you as explosive as LeBron James?
Are you as skilled as Kevin Durant?
I assume, if you are being honest with yourself, you answered “no” to these questions. Therefore, you need to find other ways to separate yourself.
Do you need to separate yourself from the players trying out so you can earn a spot on the team?
Do you need to separate yourself from the players that make the team so you can earn playing time?
Do you need to separate yourself from the top players in your state so you can earn a college scholarship?
Do you need to separate yourself from the best players in the country so you can earn All-American status?
Think of the game Musical Chairs. The entire premise is that there are more chairs than there are people… hence the immediate anxiety attack you feel when the music stops and you scramble to grab a chair!
Basketball, and life for that matter, is similar. You need to find what separates you from the pack… so you can “get a chair.” There are 4 ways to separate yourself to make sure you “get a chair” this season:
You have no control over the natural gifts you were born with… but you can always get better. Not everyone can be as athletic as Derrick Rose. However, with hard work and a progressive program, you can get stronger, quicker, and be in great basketball shape.
Similar to athleticism, not everyone possesses the coordination and innate abilities required to handle the ball like Chris Paul or shoot like Stephen Curry. However, with countless hours of deliberate practice, you can improve your fundamental basketball skills.
I am referring to your basketball I.Q. (not your potential to split the atom or win $25,000 on Jeopardy). Do you know how to play? Do you understand concepts like time and score, know what a good shot is, and know your teammates’ strengths and weaknesses? You can improve your basketball I.Q. by studying film and learning from folks who truly know the game (like your coach!).
While there are natural limits to how athletic you can be, how skilled you become, and how well you understand the game… there are no limits to the intangibles. Everyone has the ability to do these things, but very few have the heart, fortitude, and perseverance to do them on a daily basis.
These intangibles are the best way to separate from the pack and help your team be more successful:
- Enthusiasm (raise the level of those around you, be positive, accept coaching)
- Unselfishness (put your teammates first, make the extra pass, set screens)
- Effort (give 100% every practice, defend, box out, take charges, dive for loose balls)
Here is how powerful these intangibles are:
If you are below average in athleticism, skill, and I.Q… but do these 3 things every day… you still have a strong chance to make the team.
If you are average in athleticism, skill, and I.Q… but do these 3 things every day… you have a strong chance to earn quality playing time.
If you are above average in athleticism, skill, and I.Q… and do these 3 things every day… you have a strong chance of playing in college.
Most importantly, doing these intangibles will give your team a better chance to win and will create habits that will carry over to every aspect of your life.
If you want to separate from the pack… whether to make the team, earn playing time, or be an All-American… then continue to develop your athleticism, skill, and I.Q… and damn well make sure you do the intangibles… every day! There is no excuse not to.
Have fun. Earn success.
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