Points and rebounds are only two of a thousand ways to add value to your team
I was recently emailing with a friend of mine, a current Junior College player, who is preparing for the next level once his JUCO career is up. We were talking about how he can gain more exposure to other teams at the next level.
90% of athletes think about adding value to teams with their on-court play, and they are right to think that. Obviously, every single program wants athletes who will put up big numbers so the team will win. But it doesn’t stop there because points and rebounds and steals are not the only thing attractive to coaches. Coaches are also looking for other values in their student-athletes. What follows is a list of traits every coach is looking for in recruits and how you can add value to your team if you live this kind of life. Though this list might seem plain, it is important to understand why each of these is important!
Obviously, hard work is a must when you are becoming the best player you are capable of becoming. Yet there is another way to value hard work, and that is through the lens of a coach. A coach loves hard workers, whether they play all 4 quarters, or 4 minutes a game. Hard workers contribute positively to the culture and environment of a team. Energy and work ethic are contagious, and when one player works hard, the energy and effort of the entire team increases. When one player is lazy or apathetic, the energy of the team decreases. It’s the way humans work. So work hard for the purpose of improving your game; of course. But also work hard because your work ethic will permeate in the air of your practice: Your clapping, your diving, your competing, will raise the effectiveness and intensity of every practice.
Have you ever been the best player on your team? I have. It was only middle and high school so don’t let that come off as arrogant haha. But I remember practices where the least talented player on the team would guard me in practice and catch me on a day where I was cruising through practice. If he shut me down 1, 2, or even worse 3 possessions, I’d immediately go to being “lit”, and increase my effort and intensity the whole practice. That goes to show it doesn’t matter who you are; Great effort, energy, and competitiveness ALWAYS make a difference!
A few years ago, I attended a Nike Clinic in Myrtle Beach, SC. Rick Byrd, the amazing head coach at Belmont University, brought to light some very important things for myself to consider as a then 19-year-old coach. He shared Belmont’s recruiting strategy, and how they emphasize character. The reason? Just like the previous section, high character athletes will perform at higher levels. Also of importance is the fact that high character student-athletes give coaches less garbage to deal with, so that coaches can sleep easily at night. Don’t be that athlete out partying every night, making poor decisions, that causes the coach to worry at night and ask himself, “I hope Player A doesn’t get arrested tonight.” A lot of coaching staffs sign players that make them worry at night. High character players do the exact opposite! They give coaches a peace of mind and allow coaches to spend more energy where they love: pure coaching, not babysitting.
Just like the format of the previous paragraphs, grades matter because they impact YOU. (I’m taking the politically correct stance for now. I’ll just say I value learning over grades and oftentimes they are completely uncorrelated). Now let’s shift our mindset to that of a coach. When a roster is composed of a few knuckleheads who don’t want to keep their grades up, the coach has to waste their time and energy on finding ways to resolve the GPA issue: time spent calling academic staff, finding and arranging tutors, worrying about if a star player will be eligible, or making sure the student-athlete is attending class. Revisiting the same concept, this is a waste for the coach because they could be, and should be, spending more time on pure basketball, pure coaching.
The bottom line of this article is to expand a players mindset to think a certain way. If you are tied for a scholarship offer with another kid, and have mastered each of the previous disciplines, you are going to look better than the other candidate!
Sought after players are on a relentless pursuit to become an amazing player who produces on the court. But the most sought after players are athletes who not only are becoming their best, but who are also committed to helping the team become an elite unit, whether they play 4 quarters or 4 minutes. Become your best, and contribute to your team in as many ways as possible.
As I’ve been attending more and more basketball events, one lesson has really started to repeat itself and make sense to me. This advice was given to me on several occasions but it goes like this: “The job of an assistant coach is to make the life of the head coach easier”. Head coaches deal with more bogus than anyone in the program because every problem falls on their desk. So, even though this advice was for me as an assistant coach, it applies to players as well: Yes, be a phenomenal player. Also be a phenomenal person, because when you are a person of high character, you achieve more, your team wins more games, and the life of your coaching staff is made a lot easier.
Thank you for reading!
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