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BASKETBALL COACHING TIPS: HELPING PLAYERS FIND THE ATHLETE’S WAY

Written by: Trevor Huffman

TrevorHuffman.com is about my life and about getting out of our comfort zone– in sports, in basketball, in building a tribe and surrounding ourselves with people that want to grow.

I’ll be sharing my uncomfortable failures and short-lived successes from around the world as I played professional basketball. I’ll be sharing basketball coaching tips on how I design my basketball training workouts for my THBA Elite and Youth Northern Michigan Basketball Skill Development Academy.

Yet, what I really want to talk about is something deeper. I want this to be something athletes, coaches, humans, and parents alike can take the darker and lighter side of what I’ve learned from my 20 years of NCAA, NBA, and European experiences.

If you want more practical sports training knowledge, here’s another athlete sports blog I love following.

In the end, how we help each other get to where we want to go is all I care about talking about.

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“A life spent making mistakes is not only more honorable but more useful than a life spent doing nothing.” – George Bernard Shaw

As you know (or may not know), I am an aspiring writer, basketball coach, old ex-professional point guard trainer, and solo travel junkie. Today’s athlete sports blog is about learning how to handle making mistakes and then finding the Athlete’s Way to bounce back. So as you know, I love juicing up kids, parents, and coaches and getting them a basketball workout/fitness plan that gives them access to finding personal and team success.

Today, I see so many flaws in how we are prepping kids to approach their basketball, their passions, and their lives. Entitlement, poor work ethic, and bad programming is a pattern in AAU and development programs.

I don’t have kids, but I understand how you must want to protect them and save them from their feelings getting hurt. No one likes emotional or physical pain, but the truth is, without small amounts (or big amounts) of pain and suffering, it is hard to grow, reflect, and learn how to bounce back.

THREE THINGS WE CAN DO BETTER AS BASKETBALL COACHES, PARENTS, AND PROGRAMS:

  • CARE FOR THE PLAYERS, BUILD RELATIONSHIPS WITH THEM BUT BE HONEST WITH THEM. IF SOMEONE THINKS THEY ARE WORKING HARD AND THEY AREN’T, TELL THEM. IF SOMEONE MESSES UP, CHALLENGE THEM TO DO BETTER. MAKE PLAYERS ACCOUNTABLE, BUT SUPPORT THEM AND GIVE THEM PRAISE WHEN THEY DO THINGS RIGHT!
  • JUST SHOWING UP ISN’T ENOUGH. KIDS HAVE TO DEMONSTRATE POSITIVE ATTITUDES, EFFORT, FOCUS, LEADERSHIP, AND TEAMWORK IN PRACTICE. ALSO, BY HELPING THEM CREATE A VISION AND A PLAN FOR THEMSELVES, THIS PREPARES THEM FOR THE REAL COMPETITION ON AND OFF THE COURT.
  • ALWAYS HAVING FUN ISN’T THE GOAL. LOSING ISN’T FUN. WINNING IS FUN. PROGRESS IS FUN. WE MUST VALUE GROWTH AND THE ABILITY TO ACCEPT PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY TO MOVE FORWARD. WE MUST HELP KIDS LEARN TO HANDLE MISTAKES, SMALL FAILURES, AND TOUGH CHALLENGES SO THEY CAN LEARN TO BOUNCE BACK AND SUCCEED. BOUNCING BACK SHOULD BE RECOGNIZED AS THE THE FUN PART OF SPORTS.

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I am not sure why we humans end up where we do, doing what we do, other than we decide to value that time we have and do it the right way. I constantly have a conversation with kids: “What’s your workout plan? What have you written down to do the moment you step on the court? What are your weaknesses and what drills are you working on to improve them?”

By having a plan, writing it down, and carrying it with you wherever you go, you start to value your vision and goals because every second you have on the court, or in the weight room, or with your team is PRECIOUS. 

LIKE LITERALLY, PRECIOUS.

For me, playing basketball with a team is over. The wins, the losses, the setbacks, the injuries, the anxiety, the exhilaration… it’s all over as a player.  During this amazing process of ups and downs, I learned what I call THE ATHLETE’S WAY.

The Athlete’s Way is a mental approach to sports, life, business, anything and everything, and it is part of my DNA now. After 20 years of training, practicing, and competing at the highest levels, I want to help others find the Athlete’s Way in their own lives. I want to help teams and players understand the value of the time they have on the court and bounce back from anything and everything that happens to them in life.

Building Your Own Inner Athlete’s Way

Now, my current use of the Athlete’s Way is helping others approach their game and lives in a way that promotes growth faster and helps kids bounce back from mistakes.

Now, it is helping teams and players understand the value of the time they have on the court by having and creating a plan, so they can truly put all of their efforts into a drill, a rep, practice, or the next workout.

Now, my intense two ball basketball dribbling routine is being handed on to the next college hopeful (as I yell at them to get out of their comfort zone).

The edge I sought in the weight room is being taught to the next dreamer.

The camaraderie I had winning championships is what I’m trying to build with my new teams.

Most of these sports moments of learning the Athlete’s Way are over for most of us after high school.

Not all of us, but most of us. For the select few that value their vision and create a plan, sports continue into college and beyond.

Playing basketball for me is done, but everything you learn from it isn’t.

What’s next, young athletes, parents, and coaches?

The Athlete’s Way is next.

It’s what sports teach you. The Athlete’s Way is still inside me, beckoning me to find my next craft.

Okay, Yoda, but what is the Athlete’s Way you ask?

The Athlete’s Way is that voice that pushed me to do what others would not. It was that voice that woke me up at 6:00 am to dribble in my basement. It was that voice that wouldn’t let me get off the bus after a bad shooting game without getting more shots up that night. It was that mental obsession that would watch tape on my opponent over and over and over until their moves were engrained in my mind. It was the workout plan I taped to my ceiling every night.

I had a plan as a kid and little did I know, I was developing my own inner Athlete’s Way.

The Athlete’s Way is beckoning me now; to find my next team, build my next project, explore my next passion and know my next purpose. Yet, I’m not there. I just don’t know what it is, but I am getting closer. I don’t believe in typical American society telling me or conditioning me to do what it bids. I didn’t listen to people when they told me I would never play division one basketball and I won’t listen to people tell me to do something, “for the sake of doing something.”

  “Without change, something sleeps inside us, and seldom awakens. The sleeper must awaken.”

SO WAKE UP! YEAH, YOU! I’M TALKING TO YOU. GRAB A PEN, A PAPER, AND WRITE DOWN WHAT YOUR WORKOUT LOOKS LIKE EVERY TIME YOU STEP IN THE GYM. NEED HELP, THEN LISTEN TO THIS!

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