I was a highly ineffective basketball player. Yep. I was. When I got to college, I was. My first semester of college I struggled. My first practice I struggled. I had an asthma attack in my first practice. I don’t even have asthma. We were having an individual session with just 3 guards. And coach had us all over the place. And I couldn’t breathe. I ended up at the University Health Center. That was during the morning. That afternoon I was supposed to run 2 miles within 16 minutes. “What! I can’t do that. I got asthma.” I asked the doctor could he write a note to my coach explaining that I could not run the 2 miles that day. Little did I know. I would have to run it the next day.
It totally caught me off guard. I was a star. I was a super star. A super star basketball player since 7th grade. I was MVP of my teams for 6 straight years. 7th grade, 8th grade. 9th grade. 10th grade. 11th grade. 12th grade. Why was basketball so difficult when I got to college? Why was preseason conditioning so hard? I use to beat everyone in sprints in junior high and high school.
Because of my ineffectiveness during my days of college basketball, I decided to be a trainer. I decided to educate young ladies on what basketball really was. Especially if they thought about playing on the college level.
Here is a list of habits I had that made me ineffective as a college basketball player.
1. No Plan of Progression
From the time I stopped playing my senior year of high school, to the time I was required to report to college as a freshman. I did not use my time wisely. That was a period of about 3 months. My college coaches provided me with a work out program. I don’t remember doing much with it. I had it honest during that time. There were some things going on in my life. I wasn’t in much of a stable situation during that period.
LESSON: Create a progression plan to implement during the summer months. This is a plan to work on your weakness or to add additional skills to your skill set for the upcoming season. Today, most college freshman go to summer school after graduating so a progression plan will be made available. Since they are already on campus, they will have access to the resources (a gym, weight room, etc) to implement the plan.
Players in middle school and high school should get with their coach to help in creating a progression plan.
2. Not Working Extra
This is an extension of not having a plan of progression. From 4th grade into my senior year of high school, I was always playing basketball or working on shooting. I was playing with boys, older girls, after dinner, after leaving the beauty shop, on my crate, on my goal I bought with my allowance, in the middle of the day (during the hottest time of the day), in the drive way, or on the side walk. I was constantly doing something with a basketball. I was at the top of my game during that time.
I was not at the top of the game when I got to college because I stopped doing the extra things that got me to the top in junior high and high school. Well, I did not do it consistently. There was a period during my sophomore year of college, when I started coming early to the gym to work on my shooting. My confidence grew. My performance got better. Then I earned a spot into the starting lineup.
LESSON: Take some time during the season to stay on top of your game. Come to practice early or stay late. Go to the gym, track, backyard, driveway, sidewalk to get in some extra shooting, running, dribbling, etc. “There’s no traffic beyond the extra mile.” Working extra is what separates the top performers from the others.
3. Not Hanging with Top Performers
When I was in the 6th grade, I was fortunate to live in the same apartments as a top high school player in the city. The apartments had several basketball goals available for us to use. She would take me to the courts with her to play ball. I meet other top players in the city through her and got to play basketball with them also. Their habits, parts of their game rubbed off on me.
When I got to college, I can’t remember hanging much with the starters, as far as, when they were training outside of practice. I remember watching one of the starters running by herself on the track one day. It never crossed my mind to ask her about her running schedule so I could run with her.
LESSON: If you want to be a top performer, do what they are doing.
4. Not Staying Positive
At the start of my junior season of high school, I struggled. I wasn’t scoring as many points as I was during my sophomore season. I had a conversation with one of my AAU coaches. It helped me out. I remember losing the City Championship game that same year. I was devastated. I had a conversation with an area college coach. It helped me out.
There were a lot of down periods during my days in college. Guess who I talked to? My teammates who where in the same situation that I was in. Those negative conversations did not help me nor them.
LESSON: You will have ups-and-downs in everything that you do. That’s why it is important to surround yourself with top players and positive people so they can remind you to stick with it. All players go through good games and bad games, good practices and not so good practices. Being able to rebound from the bad is important. Negative energy can be infectious. Also positive energy can be infectious. Stay on the positive side.
5. Not Studying the Game
In high school, our coach had us watch video after our games to show us our mistakes. In college, you watch a lot of game footage of your offense, your defense and of your opponents.
However in college, I never took the time to study game footage of me or of the starters that played my position. It would have helped me out tremendously.
LESSON: Study the game. Watch YouTube videos. Buy Basketball DVDs. Film your games and critique yourself. Watch college games and study the players that play your position.
Top players know the game. They study the game. They watch game footage. They study their competition.
Why I just put myself on blast? Because I want others to learn from my mistakes. It was during my period of struggling in college when I decided I wanted to become a trainer. Plus, I’m much, much older and it doesn’t hurt as much to talk or write about it.