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What It Takes to be a Great Basketball Player

No matter how old you are, how long you’ve been playing for, or how good you think you are, you always have room for improvement. Elite players like Kevin Durant and LeBron James work tirelessly to improve their skills, conditioning, basketball IQ, strength, power and agility. It takes time and a lot of hard work to become great at basketball. So what areas are important to work on to improve your game?

Fitness

Most kids have a reasonable level or fitness naturally but you should be trying to improve your strength and conditioning evert day. A few push ups a day, a few sit-ups per day, a few superman jumps. Start off small and add one or two each week. Being stronger will help improve your game and likely give you increased confidence when your on the court. Speed, jumping and stamina make a big difference as you play in higher levels of basketball and you cannot hope to be fit and healthy unless you eat well.

Skills

The fundamentals of basketball are the most important thing to master because they will make you and your team better no matter what age level or team you play for. These skills include: Ball-handling; Passing; Defending; Shooting; Rebounding; and Dribbling. Of these, shooting is probably the most important as you can defend, rebound, dribble and pass all game long but if you can’t get the ball in the hoop you won’t win any games. Unfortunately, too many kids spend too much time shooting 3’s, pretending to be Steph Curry or Trae Young. They would be better off perfecting their free throws and right/left hand layups. Likewise, less time spent trying to “break ankles” and more time working on your passing.

Mind: Attitude / Knowledge

This is often the area that kids can make the biggest difference to their game and there are two parts to it.

Firstly, every player should have a great attitude at training and games. You should always give maximum effort without being asked. You should be keen to learn and listen carefully to your coach. Be confident when you are on court, stay positive and don’t panic when you have the ball – a mistake is often made worse if its made by a player under pressure. It is important that you are unselfish – be happy for your teammates to do well and help them do well. You should be very competitive, but always show good sportsmanship.

Secondly, the more you watch, learn and think about basketball, the better you will get at it. Many players have a high skill level but a low basketball IQ. Use videos to learn about game strategy and on-court decisions. The better you understand the game the easier it will be to play because you’ll begin to know what the other team are about to do before they do it. The best basketball players see all of the options on the court and can predict what will happen rather than watching it happen and then reacting.

Remember

• Have respect for the game, its rules, the referees, coaches and both teams’ players.
• Great players practice with a purpose – you can’t play great if you don’t practice great.
• Great players love playing and competing against other great players.
• There is only one thing you can control – that is how hard you play.
• Be gracious in defeat and humble in winning.

Michael Jordan said, “Some people want it to happen, some wish it would happen, others make it happen”.

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