Basketball on the Edge – Process vs. Results

I have decided to embark upon a new challenge starting today. I plan to begin working out and training to try out for an NBA team this fall. I’m going to put in long hours on the court refining my shooting, dribbling and passing. I’m going to train my body using the latest and most innovative techniques to develop basketball specific speed, strength, and agility. I’ll have my own personal shooting coach as well as a strength and conditioning trainer by my side through this whole process. I’m going to revamp my diet as well to make sure I am getting the proper nutrition that my body needs. I know this is going to be a difficult process. After all, I am 45 years old right now.

Is my goal realistic? Would I be able to make an NBA team at age 45 after having not played a competitive basketball season for 23 years? No, absolutely not!

I don’t really plan on trying out for an NBA team, but… let’s focus on the process of what I might be able to accomplish. Would I be a failure if I didn’t reach my goal? I guess it depends on your definition of failure. I certainly would not make an NBA team at age 45. That could be considered a failure right? I set out to do something and came up short. On the other hand, if I spent a year preparing to try out for an NBA team would I be a better basketball player than when I started? Definitely. Would I be in better physical condition? Definitely. Would I be healthier? Definitely. The process of trying to reach my goal and failing actually provides me with improvements that make me better in a number of different areas (basketball skills, conditioning, health).

What is the point of this crazy story?

In youth basketball we too often look at the results (did we win?) instead of focusing on the process of what it takes to win. This year I coached a team of third grade boys that played 4th grade AAU basketball. I knew going into the season that we were going to get beat a lot (and we did!) I also knew that we were going to focus on the process of improving each player’s basketball skill set, making sure we had fun no matter what the results on the scoreboard said (always a challenge for any coach). The teams we played were older, bigger, and generally more skilled than our team. We could have practiced 3 hours a day for the entire season and not beaten most of the teams we played. Did that make our season a failure? No, because we focused on the process of improving as a basketball team and improving the skill sets of our players.

As parents we have to remember that our child’s basketball career is a process. It is not a one-time or even one season event. Our team won one game during the past AAU season, but if you ask our players if they had fun and enjoyed playing they would say yes. If you ask our parents, I think they would say their kids became better players. Is that a failure because we only won one game the whole season? I don’t think so. That season will lead to more success down the road. Sometimes, no matter how hard you work you will still fall short of your goal. I could train from now until forever and not make an NBA team. A young player in elementary school might be extremely dedicated and practice hard every day, but if their goal is to make the varsity team in 7th grade it’s not going to happen! That doesn’t mean there is no value in the PROCESS, in fact the PROCESS is where the value lies, especially in youth sports.

Keep in mind that we often can’t control the ultimate outcome of whether we win or lose, but we can control the process. The process is where growth and improvement take place and success is truly measured. When your focus is on the process both you and your young player will have a more positive basketball experience no matter what the scoreboard says.

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