Every player on a teams roster serves a purpose. Heck, every person that is part of the program or organization has a purpose, not just the players. But for the sake of this article, we're going to focus solely on players, with the goal being to convince you that you matter and that your team needs you!
Right now you might not believe that, you may feel like you just go through the motions everyday at practice. Or maybe you've given up on working hard or going the extra mile because you feel your coach doesn't notice or you haven't gotten any recognition. Well, the first thing I have to say is to stop feeling sorry for yourself and instead switch gears and look forward to next season as a new opportunity to go get whatever it is that you want.
Accept Where You Currently Are
No matter the talent level, skillset or lack there of, EVERY player has an impact on their team. Now, notice the word impact doesn't necessarily have to be a positive thing. Players can impact the team in a negative way just as much as they can help. So the first step must be to accept where you are today and embrace the journey of where you want to go.
Think about the following questions:
What are you strengths and weaknesses as of today?
Where do you rank amongst the rest of your teammates?
What do you want to happen this upcoming year?
What could you have done better this past season?
What changes will you make to get to where you want to be?
Now that you have taken accountability for the success or failure you've had prior to this moment, you can begin to get excited about the new opportunity that lies ahead!
Embrace What's To Come
Okay, so you're on the team and you just finished your first 2 weeks of practices. You realize that you're definitely not the best or most athletic player on the team, BUT when you reflect back on the past 2 weeks you can confidently say that nobody grabbed close to as many rebounds as you. Throughout each week you were consistently #1 on the stat sheet for most rebounds, both offensive and defensive even though your shooting percentage wasn't very high.
You spend the weekend thinking about how you can contribute more with the fear of not getting much playing time since your teammates are clearly more talented on offense. You don't cry about it, lose confidence or dwell for too long, instead you make the decision to have a discussion with your coach that following Monday and ask him what he needs from you. You approach the subject with a team first mindset and express your desire to help the team in anyway, seeing if he has any suggestions for you.
You leave the office with a smile on your face as he explains that EVERY player on this team has a role, including you. He went on to explain that he doesn't need you to score, he already has scorers. What you do well is rebound and nobody else comes close to you in that category. And that's what makes you special, your role is vital to the teams success and you need to set the standard for rebounding each and every day in practice.
From this one conversation, your concerns are addressed and any doubt you had in your mind has now shifted to a feeling of opportunity that you cannot wait to seize head on. You understand what is expected from you and are ready to embrace the challenges that lay ahead through a long season with your teammates by your side.
Step 3 Expand Your Opportunity
Don't be content in the role you are currently in, always be working to expand that role. If your job is to shoot open 3s this season, next season earn the trust of your coach to shoot off the dribble. If you're told not to dribble the ball this year because you turn it over a lot, work towards earning the trust to dribble next season. If you're a post player and aren't allowed to shoot outside the paint, earn the trust to shoot from anywhere on the court next season.
Always want MORE, don't be satisfied! But remember, you must EARN this trust. It is never going to be handed to you, you must put in the time and effort in order to achieve the results. You're not going to become a better shooter, ball handler or for that matter a better player in general without hours and hours of focused, detailed work.
Accept the challenge, embrace the opportunity, and continue to expand.