Basketball on the Edge – The Kaizen Approach to Basketball Training

How can my son or daughter get better and make the team next year? How can they go from being a bench player to a starter? How can they go from being a starter to being the best player on their team? These are questions I hear from parents all the time. There is no one magic bullet that will suddenly transform your young child into a superstar with multiple college scholarship offers in hand, but I have recently come across a concept that is so simple in its approach that any player can do it and get better.

What is this concept? It is called Kaizen. (If you want to read the history of where the term came from you can read about it here – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kaizen) In very simple terms Kaizen means “continuous improvement”, but what does that mean from a basketball perspective and how can your child apply it to become a better basketball player?

Sustaining an effort is the most important thing for any enterprise. The way to be successful is to learn how to do things right, and then do them the same way every time. Over the length of a season, a correlation always appears between great effort and great overall numbers. It may not show from one game to the next, but in the long run superior effort is reflected in the win column. – Pat Riley

Get 1% better every day! Sometimes the road ahead of a young player can look very daunting. Other players are much more skilled, or stronger, or faster. How can a young player “jump” a level and really improve? Help your child make continuous 1% daily improvement their goal.

“When you improve a little each day, eventually big things occur. Not tomorrow, not the next day, but eventually a big gain is made. Don’t look for the big, quick improvement. Seek the small improvement one day at a time. That’s the only way it happens — and when it happens, it lasts.” —John Wooden

How do you help your young player implement the concept of Kaizen into their basketball training? Have your child ask them self this question every single day: What’s one small thing I can do today that would make me a better basketball player?

What does that look like on a daily basis? Pick a reasonable amount of time for your young player’s age. (Start small, 10 minutes a day. After a while they can add time depending on their age, motivation, and desire to improve.) Then, simply practice a particular skill for that set amount of time each day. Let’s say your child wants to be a better ball handler this coming season. If they spend 10 minutes handling the ball EVERY day for the next 10 weeks until their official practices start they will be better. They key to Kaizen is the daily continuous effort that yields small 1% gains.

The Kaizen approach to improving your game completely breaks down the big, overwhelming goals into small daily increments. Getting 1 % better encourages action. The small successes a young player experiences compound on each other and start building momentum, which leads to taking bigger and bigger actions, (like adding minutes to their daily practice time).

In addition, one of the key components of Kaizen is that there is no magic bullet that will suddenly make them a great player. Change comes through small, continuous improvement. Instead of wasting time searching for the miracle that will change everything, Kaizen helps a young player direct their attention to their daily workout and reminds them: “You already know what you need to do. Get to work and find small ways to improve along the way.” This is a great message for your young player to hear and internalize, especially when it doesn’t always come from you, the parent nagging them to practice every day. Once their daily workout is in place intrinsic motivation should take over.

Success is a few simple disciplines, practiced every day; while failure is simply a few errors in judgment, repeated every day. —Jim Rohn

Finally, Kaizen isn’t a “one and done” approach to basketball training. It’s a process of continual improvement. Your child will never “arrive” as a basketball player with Kaizen, so the temptation to sit back and relax once they’ve seen a bit of improvement is reduced.

Success isn’t owned, it’s rented. And the rent is due every day. – JJ Watt

Start getting 1% better today!

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