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Separating Yourself: When Practice Isn't Enough

Updated: Jul 10, 2018



So you are starting your season and you notice that everyone is just as talented as you. Your mind races to figure out what is it going to take to get in the rotation or to become a starter. Do I try to show my teammates up and embarrass them to look good? Do I try hard to impress the coach with some slick moves? As good as these ideas sound, these things are not what is going to separate you from the competition. The answer is simple but not simply executed. What will separate you from your competition is the level of work that you put in on your own game.

Now this sounds simple but not every player has the right mind set for carrying it out. I have worked with players on every level of basketball and the one common theme ran throughout, team practice was only the beginning of the work. I recently ran across two quotes from current NBA players.

Anthony Davis of the New Orleans Pelicans said: "I thought I was done after practice. The USA guys taught me after practice I need to work on my game."

Gordon Hayward of the Utah Jazz said:

"After practice was over, I'd go do an individual workout on my own. That's how I separated myself."

In my twenty years of basketball player development, I have seen all types of players, but the prevalent attitude I have witnessed is that all one needs is to go to practices, open gyms and the local gym or playground, play endless amounts of gamesYou have to make the time to work on your individual game. Notice I said make time not take time, There is a difference.......allow me to explain.

In his book "After The Buzzer: 7 Steps for Winning The Big Game" Rodney A. Davis shares about a practice formula that can lead a player to becoming the success they want to be; "12/7/4= Number 1". In short it stands for 12 months a year, 7 days a week, 4 hours a day. Now most people get the 12 months and the 7 days, but the struggle most will have is with the 4 hours a day. In his book he lays out what it would take to get to the 4 hours. He gives a school year day that contains 2.5 hours of practice that looks like this:

7am Wake Up

8am - 3:30 School

3:30 - 4:30 Homework

4:30 - 6:00 Practice

6:30 - 9:00 - Dinner, Chores, Homework

9:00-10:00 Practice on your own

10:30 Bed

To get to the 4 hours, Davis suggests a few modifications to the schedule including the following:

Wake up one hour early at 6 and put in an hour of practice. Then after team practice, stay and get in another half hour of skill work which will bring you to the 4 hours.

There is an old saying that says: "Don't practice until you get it right, but practice until you can't get it wrong" The bottom line is that there will need to be some sacrifice of time but if you want to separate yourself from the competition, that is what it will take to get there. To develop into a great player, you have to make the time to work on the skills that will separate you from the other players. The reality is that what you do in team practice simply is not enough to make you a better player. So get a plan and get out there and separate yourself from the competition!

Stay Forever Strong!