Updated: Jul 26, 2020
We all have those moments where we lack motivation to go workout or practice, but we know we should. We turn on one more episode of the Netflix show we are currently obsessed with or we hit snooze on the alarm clock for the fifth time in a row. We might choose to go out to eat with our friends or go to a party at night when in the back of our mind we know that we didn't get our basketball workout in today...It bothers some more than others, that feeling of guilt that you're rewarding yourself with something that you might not have earned that day, but the truth is, things happen and life goes on. We can't dwell on the choices we've made in the past, but instead we can prepare ourselves to make better ones in the future. Here are 3 things I have done over the course of my basketball journey that have made working out on a daily basis a no brainer. These are by no means the "recipe" for success, as everyone has their own rituals and no two paths look exactly the same... But for me, being self aware of my scatter brained tendencies and struggle to remain organized, keeping in mind these 3 steps allowed me to develop not just as a basketball player but in my everyday life as well. I still have a long ways to go, but hopefully this can help you avoid complacency without becoming overwhelmed.
1) HAVE A PLAN
"Proper preparation prevents poor performance". This quote is painted on the wall in the Quinnipiac locker room, where I've spent more time than anywhere else in the past 5 years. It's engrained in my head and it's 100% true. For the majority of us success is never achieved without hard work, but what if we could work not just harder but smarter as well. Having a plan allows us to be more efficient with our time and keeps us on track towards the goal or mission that we are trying to achieve. Be prepared for each and every workout, whether you are in your driveway, at a summer league practice or trying out for the olympic national team. I wish I had developed this mentality at an earlier age, because having a focus and purpose for each session would've saved me a lot of time that I spent working on things that may have not been totally aligned with my goals.
2) TRACK YOUR PROGRESS
So once you create your plan and get into a comfortable routine, the next step is to start tracking your progress. This doesn't have to be as boring and tedious as it may sound. You don't need to write down every little thing, only what is important to YOU. This will be different from person to person and totally dependent on your goals which should be evident in your plan! For example, if I want to improve my shooting percentage, that's what I should be tracking in my workouts. Whether the drill was ball screen shooting, stationary reps or off the dribble work, at the end of the day the most important thing you want to track, is whether or not the ball went in the basket. The purpose of tracking is to monitor your progress. This seems obvious, yes, but most players don't do it, at least not consistently. That's why they end up in the same scenario year after year, wondering why they aren't getting more playing time or haven't earned the trust of their coach yet. Now there are a million factors that could go into those situations, but the one you can control is your work ethic and desire to see results. Watching yourself progress week after week, and month after month should give you a feeling of satisfaction, but only for a split second until it's time to choose a new focus, a new area of improvement, and then it's time to get back to work.
We want our workouts to be competitive. This doesn't mean that you need to be playing in a live game. You can be competitive no matter the setting or drill. Whether it's form shooting, ball handling, passing etc. there is always place for time and or score. And it all comes together when you track those stats and then look to crush them the next time out. Now you are competing against yourself and this is where workouts can get fun. The problem is, if you don't write down how many 3s you made in a minute last week, how the heck are you supposed to know what score to beat. Not that it is a complete wast of time to shoot without keeping score, but there's something to be said about having a goal for each drill and the sense of urgency that it creates. You focus more on each shot, you hold your follow through and when you miss you make adjustments...because the next shot matters. That's why we track. So be sure to include in your workouts a place for time and score, as well as opportunities to push yourself harder than you might've the day prior. Challenge yourself by making the goals difficult, while celebrating even the smallest successes.
*REEVALUATE & REPEAT*
This entire process of planning and executing in order to achieve a certain goal, will only be worth it if you can look back months or even years and say that you enjoyed the process. Maybe not EVERY single day, let's be real there are some days where we might not feel like it or our focus is off... but over the course of a month of planning, training and evaluating your game there should be more good days than bad. The overall process should be enjoyable and if it's not then maybe you're missing something or to be brutally honest, maybe you don't love the game as much as you thought you did. That doesn't mean you can't achieve good results, but there are few extraordinary players that became great without loving the process. Players want the highlights and the notoriety, but most aren't willing to put in the work that isn't glorified on a daily basis. Again, it's not for everybody but if you want to be great at practically anything, it starts with proper planning which is the first step to avoiding poor performance.