My eighth grade season had just come to an end. I had a great year and had my eyes on playing varsity as a freshman. I knew it wouldn’t be easy, but for whatever reason, I had something to prove. I sat down with my Uncle (He led the state of California in scoring in high school and was a NCAA Division 1 guard) and he helped me put together a training program for the next 6 months to get ready for varsity. Later that year, I made the varsity team, earned a starting spot, and averaged 16.8 points per game for the season.

    We’ve all done it. We’ve all been there. That daunting question we ask ourselves… is this really making me better? You do certain drills, do different strength training exercises, or listen to someone’s advice on training, and none of it makes you better. We get poor results, and never really see the exponential growth we know is possible. Why does this happen and how can we avoid wasting our precious time? When you have a plan, and you do the work, you can achieve your goals. Let’s jump in.

1) You’re getting bad advice.

The 2 questions I always remind players to ask themselves are these: Has the person you’re taking advice from achieved the results you’re after? Do they know how to not only do it themselves but also teach others? These questions can guide you to finding the right mentors, coaches, and trainers. Success leaves clues, so be sure you’re listening and paying attention to the ball players that have been successful (e.g. if you want to play on varsity in high school, talk to the guys/gals that have made the team and find out what they did). Be sure you’re surrounding yourself with coaches/mentors/trainers that have been there before and can help you reach your goals.  

2) You’re not focused on your strengths. (Diversification syndrome)

So many players are too busy training 5 or 6 different areas of their game that they never master anything. Don’t get me wrong here, I’m not saying you need to be a one dimensional player. I am saying that whatever you are good at now, you need to become the best in the gym at that skill. For example, if you have a tight handle, double down on that skill and become the best ball handler in every gym. If you are a good shooter, don’t start working on a killer crossover until you’re the best shooter you know. I see so many players that want to play at the next level but they’re decent at 5 different skills with no clear cut mastery of any one thing. Become the best at one skill, then add different aspects over time. Too many players diversify and are mediocre at quite a few skills, and never can make the jump to the next level. Double down on your strengths to double up when it’s gametime.

3) You’re not intentional.

Do you have a plan, goals, and targets you’re focused on achieving every time you train? So many players go to the park or gym and shoot around, maybe do some dribbling drills, maybe some plyos, shoot some free throws, foam roll and stretch (hopefully), then head home. This is a common path to mediocrity and never playing at the next level. You need weekly goals/targets, then figure out what you need to do daily to smash your goals. For example, 1,000 made elbow jumpers this week. I always recommend a 6 day work week for players that want to play on varsity, in college, and professionally. That means you’ll need to make 167 elbow jumpers per day.

    The same thought process needs to go into your ball handling drills and all other skills you are developing. Some players go for time, I recommend focusing on repetitions. You can then focus on good reps not just going hard for 2 minutes. For example, you create a weekly goal of 600 right to left crossovers and 600 left to right crossovers. That means you’re doing 100 of each crossover daily and you’re making consistent improvements. Before you step onto the court each day, set your intention. Know what your goal is then work like crazy to smash it.     

4) You’re not OBSESSED.

I remember shovelling the snow off of an entire court at the park and working on my shot in the middle of a harsh Missouri winter. I would have worked on my handles too, but when it’s 4 degrees outside, the ball doesn’t bounce very well ;). You don’t have to shovel snow to be an obsessed individual, but you do need to make the shift to becoming a no excuse, do whatever it takes human being. Having a healthy obsession is a great thing, and don’t let anyone tell you different. I see so many players dabble and never commit. They’ll wake up early for a few days, get in the weight room for a few weeks, kinda do that jump training program, and kinda sorta get results. But that’s not you… or at least it won’t be after reading this article. Be the player that wakes up earlier than everyone else, gets up more gamespeed shots, and takes care of their body by proper nutrition and doing the work in the weightroom. Obsessed players go as hard as they possibly can on EVERY. SINGLE. DRILL. They couldn’t imagine doing something half ass. Don’t be the player that kinda-sorta works because somewhere, coming to a court near you, is someone who read this article and is making the shift. They’ve become obsessed and they’re going to do whatever it takes to be unstoppable. Make the shift or get out of the way ;).  

Stay Relentless. Play The Optimum Way.

Article by Brandon Cochran

Co-Founder Optimum Basketball

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