Improving yourself during the season is always a challenge. Most coaches spend the majority of their practice time working on “team” drills as opposed to drills that offer players an opportunity for individual improvement. There aren’t a ton of opportunities to get reps, take a ton of shots, or really work long and hard on your individual skills during a team practice. So what can you do? What do you work on that can lead to improved performance? How do you get better during the season and help your team in the process?
I believe a hidden key to in-season improvement that most players don’t recognize is the ability to look in the mirror. A mirror reflects back the image that is in front of it. When you look in a mirror you see yourself. During your basketball season it is important to look in the mirror and think about what you are seeing. Many players have a tendency to look out through a window at what others are doing. They look at their teammates, their coaches, the referees, or their opponents and place blame or responsibility on one of those external groups rather looking internally for ways they can improve. Blaming the coach or a teammate for a loss or poor performance is never beneficial. Great players know that they must look for solutions within themselves.
After each practice, workout, or game you should be looking critically at what happened and ask yourself, “What could I have done better or differently to produce a different outcome?” Do this shortly after the event so that the details are still sharp in your mind. If you are an older player you may have access to game film that can help you with this process. Go through your performance and think of one or two aspects of the game where you could have done better. Maybe you didn’t box out enough, or you had trouble handling a double team when the other team was pressing. By looking in the mirror at your performance you will begin to develop a game plan for in-season improvement. At your next practice you can focus on boxing out during every scrimmage situation, even if the drill is not focused on rebounding. You can up your concentration level when being double-teamed so you’ll be prepared to be strong with the ball the next time you face pressure in a game. Whatever you discover when you look in the mirror, make a commitment to focus on that particular skill the next time you have the chance.
This type of self-analysis is a huge step in your development as a player. Poor players look for others to blame. “The coach played the wrong defense.” “My teammates didn’t screen for me.” “The refs blew that call at the end of the game.” “That team we played was way too tough for us, there is no way we could have beaten them.” By looking at others and placing blame you are missing a great opportunity to improve as a player. Don’t look for problems, look for solutions. Great players always look in the mirror and ask themselves, “What could I have done better or differently to create a different outcome?”
Get in the habit of looking in the mirror after practices and games. You’ll be on your way to finding lots of different ways you can improve during your season. There is always MORE you can do during practices and games to help yourself get better and improve your team’s chances of having a winning season.
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