Skill Development

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Basketball on the Edge – Do You Want to Know The Secret to Being a Better Player?

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Let’s imagine a scenario. You are given an opportunity to enter a one on one tournament. Your coach says that there are two skill divisions and your skill level is right in between the two divisions. In the lower division you might be one of the favorites to win the tournament. In the higher division, you will probably struggle, but have the chance to be competitive and win some games. Which division would you choose to play in?

The truly competitive player will choose to play in the higher division. Why? Isn’t winning important? Doesn’t it build confidence? And self-esteem? The answer lies in your approach. The player that chooses the higher division is exhibiting the characteristics of a growth mindset.

If you don’t know much about “growth mindset” you can learn more by clicking here. Carol Dweck pioneered the research on growth mindset. Dweck is a psychology professor at Stanford University and author of the book Mindset: The New Psychology of Success.

The major difference between a growth mindset and a fixed mindset boils down to a very simple concept:

People with a Growth Mindset believe that skill can be developed. (I can get better at…)

People with a Fixed Mindset believe that skill cannot be changed. (I’m not good at…)

The mindset that you adopt has a huge impact on your basketball career and your life in general.

A growth mindset increases your desire to learn. Improvement only occurs through learning. Learning is often a struggle. We learn best when we practice deliberately at the edge of our comfort zone. Players with a growth mindset are not afraid to make mistakes or look bad when they are learning a new skill. These players know that the only way to improve and get better is to work hard and accept challenges.

A fixed mindset increases your desire to look good. When we believe that we are either “good” or “bad” we seek out activities or competition that makes us look good. We’d rather play against competition that we can easily beat because it makes us look good rather than challenge ourselves because then we risk looking “bad”.

Let’s look at some common basketball situations and how the two mindsets differ in their approach.

Responding to a coach’s feedback (constructive criticism)?

Growth Mindset – The player looks at the coach’s feedback as a tool to help them improve. They are open to coaching because feedback is a way for them to learn and develop their skills. Great players want to be coached.

Fixed Mindset – The player looks at the coach’s feedback as an attack on their skill level. They don’t believe they can improve so why listen at all. They think, “I’m already good, why is the coach picking on me?”

Accepting challenges?

Growth Mindset – The player seeks out challenges. They want to guard the best player on the other team. They want to play a tough schedule. They want to play against the best teams. Accepting a challenge is a risk worth taking because it offers opportunities to improve and grow.

Fixed Mindset – The player looks for the easiest route. They want to guard the weakest player on the other team. They want to play the easiest schedule. They want to play against the worst teams. Accepting a challenge is a risk not worth taking because they might look bad.

What happens when things get tough?

Growth Mindset – The player looks for solutions and tries to figure out a way to get past the obstacle or problem. Not starting? Figure out what I can do better. Missing too many jumpers? Work on my shot. Get knocked down and get right back up. Resilient.

Fixed Mindset – The player gives up easily and accepts their fate. Not starting? I’m just not good enough and coach doesn’t like me. Missing too many jumpers? I’m not a good shooter. Get knocked down and stay down. Weak.

What’s your effort level?

Growth Mindset – Effort is directly tied to results so the player works hard at all times. I can improve any skill with effort. Effort at the edge of my comfort zone is the key to learning and improvement. The player believes effort drives success.

Fixed Mindset – Effort has no correlation to results so the player does not value it. I’m either good at a skill or I’m not. The amount of effort put into something is irrelevant because my skill level is static.

Am I a great teammate?

Growth Mindset – Player is inspired by the success of their teammates. They use the success of others to learn lessons they can apply in their own life. They are happy for the success of their teammates and don’t compare themselves to others.

Fixed Mindset – Player is threatened by the success of teammates. A teammates’ success makes the player look worse. They secretly root for teammates to fail and are always comparing themselves to others.

Overall Outlook?

Growth Mindset – Focused on the process of learning and what it takes to get better. Win or lose, how can they continue to improve and get better?

Fixed Mindset – Focused on the outcome. They search out “easy” wins that make me look good. If they lose it makes them look bad and nothing can be gained from that.

As a player I always looked for opportunities to get better. I HATED playing in games with players that didn’t challenge me. I avoided those games like the plague. If I did get in a game like that I tried to handicap myself by only going left, or shooting only layups, and once I got to high school I never called a foul in a pick-up game, ever. I had never heard of the Growth Mindset way back then, but when it came to basketball I had it.

Players who adopt a growth mindset are much more likely to reach their potential than those that don’t. A growth mindset can be carried over to all aspects of a player’s life. As a student, as a family member, as a musician, as a friend, as anything those with a growth mindset are much more likely to find true success (however you define it) than those with a fixed mindset.

Let’s end with a quote from Carol Dweck herself, “This is hard! This is FUN!

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Basketball on the Edge – Are you ok with being Average? Me Neither by Tyler Gaffaney

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In this post Tyler Gaffaney from www.hoopgains.com shares 7 tips for basketball players who don’t want to be mediocre.

“There’s nothing wrong with being average. But if you’re like most players, being mediocre is the last thing you want. I promise you, If you make it a goal to do these 7 things, you will not be mediocre.”

Click here to read the article by Tyler Gaffaney

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Sign up now to get a “Head Start” on your competition with our free basketball tip of the day delivered straight to your inbox. Click below, enter your email and we’ll also send you our E-Book, “Mental Toughness, Improve Your Brain – Improve Your Game”.

Basketball on the Edge – Small-Sided 3v3 Games Are Instrumental In Youth Basketball Development

This is the fifth installment of the video series that I filmed for the Positive Coaching Alliance as part of PCA’s Conversation with the Cavs Event. In this video you’ll hear me talk about why I believe it is so important for kids to play small sided games like 3 on 3. If you want to read more about the benefits of 3 on 3 click here.

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Basketball on the Edge – Advice from an NBA Shooting Coach: Random vs. Blocked Shooting Practice by Chris Oliver

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I stood at a golf driving range several years ago and had one of the most important moments of my coaching life. I was listening in on the lesson being given behind me. There was a middle aged woman, fairly new to the game, being instructed by an older gentleman. With every swing, she got new feedback on a different part of her swing. “On that swing you did this”, then she would take another swing trying to correct that mistake. “But on that swing you did this…”, and she would then change her focus to correcting THAT mistake. Every swing a new mistake that needed correcting. The coach, to an extent, was creating random practice in a block situation by not allowing her to focus on correcting one mistake before moving on to the next. I was getting anxious for her, and I wouldn’t have blamed her if she had suddenly screamed in frustration “shut up, shut up, shut up!!!”.

There is a great idea out there that coaches need to implement in their shooting practice, but they need to be careful how they are using the idea. The great idea is …

Click here to read the article by Chris Oliver

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Basketball on the Edge – How the Simple Act of Writing It Down Can Make You a Better Player

Notebook Writing

As I’ve studied player development and personal growth I’ve come to the conclusion that a “Basketball Journal” is a critical part of any self-improvement plan on or off the court. Throughout my adult life, I had never been a “write it down” type of person. I didn’t make a to-do list, jot down ideas when they came to me, or grab a notebook when I heard something intriguing. Too often I would hear or see something and I would think, “Hey, that’s interesting”, but then it would quickly disappear from my conscious thoughts.  I’d often have an idea and never really follow up on it.  Starting in 2015 I built the habit of creating a weekly list of tasks and ideas both big and small.  I’ve definitely  increased my productivity and effectiveness. Since I started writing down new concepts or ideas I’ve grown as a coach and business owner. My Basketball Journal has become a tool that I use daily to grow in all areas of my life. I believe that a Basketball Journal is an invaluable tool in player development. A simple spiral notebook will work just fine for capturing your thoughts and ideas.

Why should a player keep a Basketball Journal?

1. To capture knowledge from coaches.

At the end of practice or a training session what is your level of recall? Do you remember all the drills two days later? The insights your coach shared? The teaching points the coach went over? Most players tend to forget over time. Develop the habit of heading to your Basketball Journal shortly after practice or a game to write down your thoughts, ideas, and what you learned. There is no better way to capture that information in the moment and then be able to revisit it later. If you don’t write it down, most of it is soon forgotten.

2. To capture your own original ideas.

A Basketball Journal allows you to capture ideas and keep your dreams alive until you can put them in motion. Once you make the Basketball Journal a habit, you’ll find that Ideas are all around you. Inspiration doesn’t always knock twice. Write your ideas down so you’re able to retrieve at any time. Whenever an idea comes to you, grab your Basketball Journal and write it down.

3. To capture your dreams and goals.

According to a study done by Gail Matthews at Dominican University, those who wrote down their goals accomplished significantly more than those who did not write down their goals. Your Basketball Journal can be a roadmap to what you want to achieve as a basketball player.

4. To work through your challenges more easily.

Writing things down gives you the perspective necessary to find the right solutions. Write down questions that you have about your challenge. When you ask the right questions, you will get the right answers. You may even have the answers somewhere in your Basketball Journal from what you have written previously. Look back occasionally at where you’ve been to help you meet the challenges of today.

5. To keep track of what’s working, and what’s not.

You can write down and track your skill development (How many free throws can I make out of 100?) How can you improve that skill? Is it better to shoot 100 free throws in a row, or shoot two at a time like you would in a game? Write down what method led to faster improvement. You can track your conditioning, your sleep, your nutrition, just about anything that impacts your game or your life. Write down what you tried and how it affected you. Rather than basing what you do on general guidelines you’ll be able to see what works best for you in a variety of areas.

Being diligent in using your Basketball Journal will result in improved performance on and off the court. Start the Basketball Journal habit today!

Leave us a comment about this post headstartbasketball@usa.net

Sign up now to get a “Head Start” on your competition with our free basketball tip of the day delivered straight to your inbox. Click below, enter your email and we’ll also send you our E-Book, “Mental Toughness, Improve Your Brain – Improve Your Game”.

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Addicted to Getting Better - On and Off the Court