Getting Athletes Excited About the Basics

At almost every camp or clinic I conduct, there is one question that always comes up:

Do you find the fundamentals of basketball boring?

About 35% say yes, another 35% say yes with the body language they give off when performing a basic drill, and the remaining 30% say no and say they see the value in learning the fundamentals (these are the ones who excel quicker).

1-on-1 training and focusing on the basics first has been proven as an effective method for many athletes, coaches and parents. The famous phrase applies — “It’s about the time you put in the gym when no one is looking“. 

But, the BIG question is: how can a player with a beginner or intermediate skill level effectively train if he/she finds the fundamentals boring? And a more important question: what are you working on if the fundamentals are not your first choice?

If athletes find the fundamentals boring in a group session with experienced coaches and other invested players, then how can one stay motivated and interested in working on those same vital drills alone?  

Let’s admit it – we all want quick results. But players have to trust and fall in love with the process of training/learning first to become better. Success doesn’t happen overnight.

For example:

  • If a player is struggling with layups, the main focus shouldn’t be shooting threes from NBA range. 
  • If a player is struggling with a simple cross over, then working on more complicated moves shouldn’t be the main goal. 

With so many changes in the game of basketball such as Stephen Curry shooting from far behind the 3-point line, Russell Westbrook and D Rose jumping in the air to make last-minute passes and other players making incredible moves to score, young athletes are motivated to do the same. That’s understandable because NBA players are role models to these ball players. What young athletes need to understand, however, is that NBA players started with the fundamentals — and even today — still understand the importance of training those foundational moves. Not only that, but their level of training (physical and skill) is at such a high intensity, it allows them to perform at that next level.  

There is nothing wrong with practicing more advanced drills, but players need a strong foundation before moving onto complexity. Without a strong foundation, fundamentals can become lost and lead to bad habits that can potentially affect a player’s level of play later in his or her career. 

There are many ways for young athletes to keep basketball fun and stay motivated while learning and training:

  • Incorporate fun learning games such as H.O.R.S.E, shooting and dribble knockout 
  • Set goals by giving yourself or your athlete a target number of shots to make each day or weekly
  • Track progress by recording the time to complete a dribbling drill or using a shot tracker app such as the Wilson X Basketball 
  • Give yourself or your athletes incentives for meeting goals, like rewarding them/yourself with buying some cool gear or take a rest day for working so hard

One last key catalyst to staying motivated is working 1-on-1 with a trainer who can help provide all the teaching methods mentioned above. 

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