To quote Allen Iverson, “We talkin’ about practice”, but with a twist to highlight that no great on-court play happens without hard work and yes, practice! All basketball players love getting on the court for a game, and the thrill that comes with it. But in reality, it’s the effort you put in during practice that will really make or break your game!
Even if you think you are doing everything you can to improve your skills during practice, there are shortcuts that all but elite players take that hurt their development, and game. Do you?
12 Poor Practice Habits that Hurt Development
1. Showing up to practice late
When you show up late to practice you cut into your warm-up time, which can hurt your game. Plus, it shows a lack of dedication, so your coaches might not think you’re invested in improving your game.
2. Slacking off
It may just be ‘practice’ but the habits you form outside of game time are the ones that will become prominent once the clock starts! Work hard every minute you’re on the court to build good habits that will come through in game play.
3. Not having a goal
Having a goal helps you focus your game and know what you will work on every time you hit the gym. Whether it’s to sink 100 free throws, put up 500 shots, or to spend 10 minutes working on focused ball handling, having a goal prevents you from wasting your practice time, and gives you a way to measure your progress.
“To go from where you are to where you want to be: you have to have a dream, a goal, and you have to be willing to work for it” – Jim Valvano
4. Skipping your warm up or cool down
Both parts of your workout are equally essential to improving your game and putting in effective practice time. Your muscles need proper stretching to help them recover after a workout, and it gives you a few minutes to focus and mentally relax.
5. Not getting proper sleep
Your body needs sleep to perform it’s best, so this is essential for getting the most out of your practice! Sleep helps your muscles to repair after you work them hard in practice, restores hormone balance, aids in mental recovery and helps keep your energy levels up.
At IBSA’s year-round basketball academy, we push you to practice with purpose. No shortcuts allowed. If you want to up your game and work towards elite levels of play, let’s sweat the details.
6. Not being coachable
Having a good coach guiding you to improve your game can make all the difference during a practice! No player knows all, and your coach on the sidelines can often see things that you can’t on the court. Allowing yourself to be open to feedback and coaching can help turn your game from a pastime to pro.
“Even the greatest players accept coaching and value the need for discipline and the order that it brings to the team”– Dr. Jack Ramsay
7. Not training at game intensity
If you spend the whole practice working on shots like you have all the time in the world to set it up, you’ll be in for a surprise when the game starts and you have players rushing to prevent your perfect set up! Using your practice time to train as though you’re in a game will help strengthen your game all around.
8. Being scared to make mistakes
If you’re not making mistakes, you’re not working hard enough! Learning how to be comfortable making mistakes and how to recover from them is an essential part of the game.
“It’s OK to make mistakes. That’s how we learn. When we compete, we make mistakes” – Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
9. Not being consistent
Practicing hard once is great. But it won’t improve your game! You have to develop a consistent practice schedule and routine to see improvements in your skills.
10. Not pushing to failure
During a game you don’t get to give up when your tired or take a break when you’re out of breath. You have to push through and work hard right until the end. If you’re not practicing in the same mindset and pushing yourself until you literally can’t go anymore, you’ll struggle with doing this during a game. Build up your drive and stamina by pushing hard all the way to the end.
11. Casual shooting
Spending half an hour just throwing up shots with no purpose, goal or routine isn’t going to help you improve. In fact, it might even help you develop bad habits! Shoot with purpose every time to maximize your practice time.
12. Quitting when you have a bad day
Bad days happen. Maybe you didn’t get a good sleep, your free throws aren’t going in, your ball handling just isn’t working. If you let these things be reasons to quit, you’ll never improve. You have to work through bad days and let your determination be your motivation, when your usually killer moves can’t be.
Practice Purposefully and Sweat the Details
Practice might be the least fun part of playing basketball, but it’s definitely the most important part! Use this list of shortcuts to hone your practice time and make sure that you’re giving it your all every time you step onto the court. Becoming an elite basketball player doesn’t come without work and taking shortcuts. Come to think of it, no one gets to be their very best at anything by taking shortcuts.
Will you challenge yourself next practice? If so, get there early!