Basketball on the Edge – 6 Bad Habits That All Young Players Should Eliminate

The habits that you build as a young basketball player are ones that will stick with you through middle school, high school, and if you are very fortunate, college basketball. Character and attitude are developed early in life. Check out my previous post about building championship habits. To be a successful player at any level of basketball not only do you need to build those championship habits, but you also need make sure to avoid the following habits that turn coaches off.


If you are disrespectful to coaches, teammates, referees, family members or anyone else, you are digging yourself a hole that is difficult to climb out of. How you treat others tells coaches a lot about your character. Be sure to treat EVERYONE with respect, not just those in authority. Younger players, custodians, secretaries, ball boys. How you treat anyone is how you treat everyone.

Lack of Emotional Control

Do you pout when things don’t go your way? Do you let one mistake spiral into multiple mistakes? Do you let other people get under your skin and take you out of your game? These are all signs that you are in the habit of losing control of your emotions. Do not allow other players, coaches, referees, fans, or circumstances to push your emotional buttons. You are in control of your emotions. Get them under control and watch your performance level rise.

Bad Body Language

Rightly or wrongly, people judge you by your body language. A shrug of your shoulders or a roll of your eyes is all it takes to get your coach thinking negatively about you. When it comes to body language, perception is reality. You need to be conscious of how others may see your actions. Don’t give anyone an opportunity to judge you based on poor body language. Demonstrate that you are coachable and a good teammate by exuding positive body language.

Not Accepting Criticism

Great players want to be coached. Coaching involves constructive criticism. If you can’t accept a coach’s criticism you will quickly stop growing as a player. Learn to hear the message, ignore the tone (which may or may not be loud/harsh), and don’t take the criticism personally. Great coaches want you to learn and improve your game. How can that happen if you already know it all and aren’t willing to hear how you can get better?

Blaming Others

Great players look inward for the solutions to their problems. They are not looking to blame coaches, teammates, referees, opponents, or fans for their failures. Instead great players ask, “What could I have done differently so the outcome is different next time?” That could mean doing something different during the game or in the way you train and prepare to play. Learn to accept responsibility for your performance and you’ll stand apart from the crowd.

Being on Time

What do I mean being on time is a bad habit? How can that be? Arrive early! Leave late! The younger you are the less control you have over this. Mom or Dad are taking you to practice or picking you up. You are at their mercy to a certain degree, but you can always ask to go early or stay late so you can get in a few extra minutes to work on your game. Older players have much more control over when they arrive at practice and when they leave. Hustle to the gym after the school day ends to work on your ballhandling or stick around after practice to work on footwork. Use the extra time you gain by showing up early or staying late to improve your skills. Coaches love players that are going that extra mile to improve their skill set.

Attitude and character begin to develop very early in our life. Eliminate these six habits as early as possible and replace them with championship habits that will last a lifetime and impress coaches at any level of basketball.

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