It should be the goal of every student athlete, as well as people in general, to want to improve and reach for that “next level” of success.
What that next level may be varies from person to person but, for the Shelter Island boys basketball program, it means becoming a .500 or better team. It also means making the playoffs for the first time in a long time.
Our middle school and high school basketball players need to reevaluate their aspirations and goals. As most of us realize, simply talking about it doesn’t work. We have got to want it and develop a plan that is designed to get us there. Keep in mind that most successful athletic teams have a plan in place and have enjoyed the taste of success. We only have to look at our school’s girls volleyball program and take notes on what has worked for them so well during the last three to four years.
A good starting point is to simply raise expectations. Individual players, as well as the team as a whole, must share the same vision if they are to be successful. This does not mean that the season is not successful unless a team wins it all. It is about developing realistic expectations and learning how to work together toward a common goal.
Some of the best types of motivational tools come from within. It’s about not stagnating or settling for mediocrity. It’s not about doing something because it is imposed; it’s about self-motivation and a desire to succeed as a team. This vision, these goals need to be shared with parents, coaches, teammates and others. Teaching and learning about goal setting, work ethic, sacrifice and working for the common good are all critical aspects of success. Student athletes need to be empowered and part of the process if they want to cultivate those self-motivational tools.
Most high school sports seasons are two to three months in duration. This represents approximately 25 percent of the calendar year. Basketball is a sport that requires individuals and teams to invest some time outside the season developing both individual and team skills. There is no high school sports program on Long Island that doesn’t recognize this essential fact.
In addition to practicing specific basketball skills, all of our players need to develop athletically. Simply put, they need to become quicker, stronger, more agile and they need to increase muscular endurance. These things can be accomplished in a fitness center, gymnasium, basement, backyard or field.
Athletes need to be taught proper weight training, with no chemicals added. They would benefit from keeping a log that reflects daily or weekly routines. Surely, they can play other sports, get jobs and have a life. We all can benefit from proper time management skills. The biggest thing for athletes to know is, “It’s not about the quantity of time that is put into something; it’s the quality of that time.”
Utilizing a heavy jump rope, running wind sprints, doing pushups, performing line drills and dozens of other activities can be used to become a better athlete. Try to vary routines, avoid working out during the hottest part of the day, drink plenty of water, work out with a partner, set personal goals, document successes in a log book and build in some fun.
Much of what was just mentioned will be taken into next year’s practice routines. If right-handed, a player should be sure to practice more time using the left hand. Work on specific basketball skills that will enhance the athlete as a player.
Lastly, attending basketball camp is great way for players or whole teams to learn new skills and to meet new people. There may even be some scholarship money available for some players to attend a camp. Several adults have approached the basketball coaches with this offer.
A separate meeting will be held sometime in April to discuss this opportunity for both middle and high school basketball players.
The basketball coaches are in the process of looking into summer and fall basketball leagues on eastern Long Island and entering a team if there is sufficient player interest. We know that many of our league opponents have taken advantage of this opportunity and they have realized the fruits of their hard work.
We can no longer hide behind our low enrollment on Shelter Island as an excuse. We need to be willing to work harder, elevate our skill level and challenge ourselves to become a more competitive team. We, as coaches, appreciate the support of parents, community coaches, graduates and the student athletes themselves.
Let’s take that next step and get to that next level together.