Success Leaves Clues

I read a quote by Doc Rivers that read, “success leaves footprints”. I really like this! No matter my role, people that are successful within that role are observable. Whether it be a successful parenting strategy, an engaging lesson idea, or a drill used to teach a basketball skill, these people leave us clues. The key is to be actively searching for these clues … like a detective!

In basketball, the summer is a time for individual development. It is an opportunity for a player to diversify his or her skills so that in the upcoming season he or she may expand their role. The more diverse a players' skillset, the more adaptable they will be to varying competitive environments. The more adaptable the player is, the greater the opportunities for playing time (notice the biology undertone).

Finding clues from successful players

So how can the clues left by successful players help a player diversify his or her skills so that they can play more in the upcoming season? I think a really good activity (that could be facilitated by a coach or parent) would be to have the individual player critique their strengths and weaknesses (possibly using a T-Chart), and then research and study players that share their position. I think a point guard could pick top point guards in high school, college and the NBA. You could compare and contrast their game with the game of the players you have selected.

Example T-Chart

You could compare yourself to Trey Burke or you could compare Tony Parker to Chris Paul (possibly using a Venn diagram).  What do successful players at your position do that you could add to your game? The reflection, observation and analysis will lead to a better understanding of the big picture. The personal efforts will also create ownership in the development of goals.

Use those clues to your advantage

Slam dunkMuch of what has been done so far has been done to identify the areas for growth. After identifying the areas and creating your goals, an action plan to accomplish your goals would be necessary. Research and collaboration would be helpful in finding ways to develop these targeted skills. Asking questions, reading books, looking things up on the internet are all sources I have used. It is very likely that someone has worked on this very thing before.

Your goal should not be to successfully perform the skill. Your goal should be to successfully perform the skill without thought. In basketball, if you have to think about it, it is most likely too late. You must perform the skill at the appropriate time when the exact parameters that dictate the use of that skill are present … it must be instinctive! So while being able to successfully perform the skill is a necessary step, you are only part of the way there.

In order to deliver a skill to your muscle memory, a few things are necessary. You must first break the skill down into parts. Knowing the parts of the whole will enable to you to properly learn and practice the skill. Repetition is key!

"Perfect practice makes permanent."

If you don't practice the correct technique, you will be making the incorrect technique permanent … who wants that! I have read that to learn a skill you must repeat it over 10,000 times. I'm really not sure you can place the same number of repetitions for varying people, but I think you get the idea.

You must use the skill competitively. You could practice against controlled defense (more predictable environment) and then progress to uncontrolled defense (more game-like). It is always a good idea to overload the skill. The idea here is to present a greater than game-like challenge on the skill. Examples of this might be 2 ball dribble, facing two defenders instead of 1, or something as simple as closing your eyes.

See the video below for workout ideas.

All that you do should be measurable. It can be a number, a time, a score or even an observed level of performance. Always strive to beat your record!

In conclusion

I believe that by critiquing your game, observing others, creating goals, and developing an action plan a player is more likely to be intrinsically connected to their goals. This will lead to more enthusiasm and persistence in the workouts and ultimately a greater likelihood that goals will be met. It is important to revise your plan as you go. Hopefully one day, in a highly competitive game, the skill will be executed instinctively. When the moment is right, you will be able to enjoy the satisfaction of your accomplishment. I hope I have given you something you can go with. Contact me if I can be of any assistance. Good Luck!


“I watched NBA players on YouTube and copied their workouts.” – Kyrie Irving


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