Are you getting the most out of your development? What does that mean to you as a player?
A lot of kids don’t understand what it takes to improve/ develop to your full potential. They think being in the gym most of the day, shooting around or playing pick up games will make them improve. I hear it all the time, “I got better today!” So when asked what did you work on? I hear the same responses time after time and not one time did they give it 100%. I believe consistency is the key; doing something over and over again creates the repetition to improve your skills.
Take me for example! In high school at Peoria High, I played center position, my offensive game at the time consisted of layups and rebounding. I thought this was what I needed to do to play college and professional basketball someday! Boy was I wrong. After attending the Nike All-American summer camp for top high school players in their class, and seeing guys my height playing position 2/3 guard, I knew I had to start changing and developing my game.
I will never forget one of my coaches, Frank Martin, currently coaching South Carolina, Gamecocks saying, “Sommerville, if you want to play beyond high school, you will need to be able to shoot, dribble, pass, and have a great understanding of the game from a guard and forward!” That summer after my freshmen year, my game changed! My goal was to attack one of the skills coach Martin mentioned. Going into my sophomore year, I had developed an ability to shoot from about 15 feet from the basket and added a jump hook off of one or two dribbles. Year after year , I improved something to my game. Junior year, I was able to shoot from the three point line, but never had attempted one in a game.
“Preparation meets opportunity”
Game was close and we needed a three pointer against Richwoods high school! I had that opportunity! Fans were shocked when I swished it! My preparation for that moment paid off. How was I able to make this shot without hesitation? I had developed this skill through my daily preparation and improvement. Consistently shooting countless shots before and after school lead to me making that shot! I can think of several situations throughout my playing career when the will to improve has played a factor in me making big plays for my team. It’s essential to improve and transform your game. I can confidently say now that coach Martin gave me a list of skills to master and I implemented them into my professional career!
“…we are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then is not an act but a habit.” — Will Durant
I tell kids all the time, YOU are the deciding factor in your growth as a player. You are going to deal with coaches who want you to play in a certain position for the team to be successful, but that doesn’t mean you can’t work on becoming something else you aspire to become. My transformation from center to guard/forward has been a process. I didn’t quit working on my shot from three point range because my coach in high school didn’t allow me to shoot them. And one day, he needed my skills and confidence to make one of the biggest three’s to win the game! I was prepared through my work to take and make that shot.
As a player you have a role for your team, be the best you can at it. But always improve on those things that will make you a complete player. Roles and responsibilities for teams shift all the time and being prepared for your opportunity to shine will separate you!