The squeak of trainers on the hardwood, the echo of shouts off the gym walls, the whoosh of the ball as it swishes cleanly through the net; there’s nothing like a high school basketball game! It’s a great feeling to be cheering your team on from the stands, but it’s an even better feeling to be on the court with your team, playing your heart out, and hoping you’ll win the game. Playing basketball in high school is where it all starts for an NBA hopeful; it’s where young players lay the foundation for skills that will enable them to pull off signature moves by the NBA’s stars in the future. Playing on a high school basketball team may not sound like a big deal if basketball isn’t the career path you’ve chosen for yourself, but for those who hope to do it for a living one day, it’s the genesis of everything. If you want to make the cut, you have to have a little natural talent and be willing to work really hard, among other things. What are those other things, you ask? Let’s take a look.
1. Hard Work
This point bears repeating, so we’ll say it again, loudly, for the people in the back: HARD WORK! If you want to impress the coaches of the best high school teams out there, you have to be willing to put in the hours and the sweat to make yourself the best player you could possibly be. You need to keep your eyes on the prize and make basketball your first priority (after academics, naturally), and put as much energy into your sport as you can. You can be the most naturally talented player in the world and still not make it far if your work ethic stinks.
2. Work on Your Power
Becoming a physically and mentally powerful player is the best way to succeed. Physical power on the court means becoming a player who sets the pace and is not easily pushed around or knocked off course. Becoming a mentally powerful player means having the right mindset and being present during training, team events, and games. Having the attitude that you’ll go as far as you need to reach your goal will contribute to a powerful mindset, and that mindset will enable you to be your best self.
3. Play Smart and Know the System
The keys to success on any given team will vary from team to team and coach to coach. While it’s true that you should become the best player that YOU can be and not attempt to completely change yourself to win outside approval, remember that your coach has a lot of experience and understanding of the game. If they’re giving you guidance or instructions, they have your best interests at heart, and you should try your best to go the distance. Allow yourself to be molded and guided by more experienced people and your innate skills will shine through. Understand what your coaches and teammates want and need from you and work in line with that instead of against it.
4. Physical Fitness
To achieve the highest level of play you can, you need to be in the best shape possible. Your reflexes need to be as sharp as they can be, so practice your ball skills and your quick shooting drills frequently. If you’re feeling unsure about what exercises would most benefit your fitness routine, outside of regular training, ask your coach or talk to a personal trainer. Once they know your goals they can help you achieve them. Do endurance training to help you keep your strength up when games go into overtime. Your body is what is going to get you through all your games, so train it as well as possible. In physical fitness your trainer might be your best friend, but your physical therapist is your wingman. Deal with any injuries before they become a big enough deal to permanently impact your play.
5. Have a Good Attitude
A key component to making it as a player in any team sport is to have an excellent attitude. You have to remain humble even when great success comes your way; players with big egos are rarely beloved by their teammates and coaches. Be a good loser, because losing is part of life when you play sport, no matter how good you are. Even more important than being a good loser is being a good winner. Rubbing a victory in someone’s face is terrible sportsmanship and won’t go unnoticed. They don’t say “being a good sport” for nothing!
Being an excellent high school basketball player doesn’t come down to any one thing. Combining all the topics we’ve covered in a way that works for you will turn you into the best version of yourself when you’re on the court!