In the years I have been playing basketball I have seen it all. I have seen kids that are so keen to make the professional basketball ranks just give up because they get into a relationship. I have witnessed basketball players get addicted to the party life and eventually lose their spot on the team. There are many distractions that make basketball players quit but here’s the top 5 from what I have witnessed.
Yes, I said it! The NBA is killing fundamental basketball in the younger generation of basketball players. Trying to mimic NBA players, particularly their attitudes, demonstrates to coaches that you are all attitude and lack heart.
I don’t want to marginalise a community of basketball players. However, so many Sudanese basketball players suffer this fate. They have all the talent and genetics to be great basketball players but the fact that they believe they are better than what they are makes them un-coachable.
The showboating and trash talking has got to the point where terrible basketball players are making it a part of their game.You are not a NBA player and you never will be if you have attitude. If you act like a punk the better basketball programs will not want anything to do with you.
Some coaches might try and work with these difficult players but what ends up happening is that coaches bench these players and eventually they quit. Watching the NBA is a distraction if you are going to mimic NBA players. Learn the game from the ground up and let go of the ego.
Are you one of these un-coachable types? If you are you probably don’t believe it. Here’s some advice; if you are, switch of the TV and work on your game and not your ego.
With serious basketball comes the need to be strong and agile. The way to do this is to hit the gym. Young basketball players with no physical size get told to hit the gym by their trainers and coaches.
Eventually these players fill out and their bodies become more sculpted. They start to look good and their confidence in public grows. This is when a lot of basketball players decide to take the gym more seriously than basketball. Instead of working on shooting, ball handling and agility the gym workout start to be tailored around gaining size and looking good.
When I was 19 I fell into this trap. I started working out and over winter put on some major size. When I saw how good I was starting to look I kept making my gym workouts as priority. But this affected my game. I was slow up and down the court and I was bricking every shot. This all was happening just before I left to college. I remember Al Westover said to me “you’ll be on the first plane back” if I kept playing the way I did.
Another incident where I felt the wrath of Al Westover was during a training session with the Tigers. I left early to get into the gym. Al stormed into the gym and told me off and said if I didn’t get back on court I would lose the gym privileges. Boy did I ever need this kick in the ass. I was a basketball player, not a bodybuilder. I’m glad I had him correcting my course.
When I went to USA during a training session with University Of Pacific, the assistant coach told me that I was too slow for the division 1 game and recommended that I get off the weights and focus on agility work. If Al heard this he would have given me the old, I told you so.
I’m really glad to have such ass kicking experiences as it woke me up to what my main goal was when training. My main goal since those early days is always train to complement my basketball game.
I have a friend who was a die hard basketball player that recently gave up the game because he has become a gym junkie. When all his social media posts were about basketball has now been taken over by countless selfies of him in the gym. He has admittedly said that he doesn’t care about basketball and just wants to be big.
It’s easy to see that getting into the gym can be addictive; which isn’t bad! But if your main goal is to play basketball it is one of the major distractions that make basketball players quit to pursue a goal of vanity.
Friends & Family
Friends and family can be a positive influence on your life, but also a negative influence. In an article titled Why can’t you be the next Kobe? I wrote for this blog, I discussed a young basketball player that I know that has a vast amount of talent. A lot better than I was at the same age. He has decided to give the game away and concentrate on working with his father.
I understand helping your father out with his business is a noble cause but I asked him what the real reason was for giving up basketball. His answer “I’ll never go pro”. How do you know? Was my response. If you don’t try, how will you know? I suspect that his Dad was in his ear telling him to stop dreaming of playing basketball and set yourself up to earn a living.
Friends too can be a bad influence. I have seen basketball players get into drugs and criminal activity just because of the company they keep. You need to asses the 5 people you most hang out with and if they are not committed to the same things you want. Then you need to get rid of them from your life. If you want to make it playing basketball the 5 people (other than your family) you spend the most time with should be basketball players.
Here’s a reality check. Years after I finished playing under 20’s I still used to go down to get some training in. There was an up and coming basketball player that was on the under 20’s first side and training with the Tigers. A bright future ahead of him. He was killed when his friends ute flipped over with him in the back of it. Apparently he was with his friends trey surfing; when you get onto the back of a ute and hold on while the car speeds. What do you think could have been if he was hanging around serious basketball players instead?
Disclaimer, I say women because all of the basketball players I have been around have been male. I’m not sure if the same happens for female basketball players chasing men but I am speaking from my experience and not trying to be sexist in anyway.
Women do have that power over men and for basketball player there’s no exception. I have known many a basketball player give up basketball all because of a new love in their life. My own teammates quitting rep basketball sides just to hang out with their girlfriend on weekends.
After coming back from Europe in 2010 I was in a relationship. As with all my relationships to date, it was a very bad one! 2011 ticked over and for most of the year I didn’t play a game of basketball, I even skipped gym sessions just to be with her and or resolve problems we had.
Towards the end of 2011 when we broke up I was back playing a whole load of basketball and immediately I went from being a miserable person to someone very happy. I played in the corporate games as the starting point guard and finished 4th in the country in the national competition. I also got myself in shape for the UK summer league where I went and played with Sheffield. It felt good to be back on court.
Take my advice, I have seen it time and time again. Woman are one of the main distractions that make basketball players quit. Never put a girl, or guy, for that matter first over basketball. If they are going to be apart of your life for a long time they need to understand that basketball is a big part of your life as well. They should never be in the way of that. Since my relationship that made me leave basketball, I have never put a girl ahead of basketball ever! I wish I could say this for my former teammates.
The number 1 distraction that leads to basketball players quitting is the party life. When you become a decent basketball player and play for semi professional or professional teams. Doors open for you that isn’t open for normal people. Free drinks, attention from women, VIP treatment, the works.
It’s easy for a basketball player to get caught up in the party life as it is fun. Like everything in excess, going out every night and living the party life is detrimental to your basketball game.
Have you heard of Lenny Cooke? Lenny Cooke was a superstar high school basketball players that was ranked ahead of Lebron James and Carmelo Anthony. But the party life got the better of him.
In the Lenny Cooke documentary there’s a scene where a coach is speaking to another coach about Lenny Cooke being out till the early hours of the morning on a day he was attending the Adidas Basketball camp for top high school basketball players.
At the end of the documentary there’s an older Lenny Cooke talking to his younger self. Telling him to stay in school, keep working hard and avoid the parties. This was a very moving part of the documentary that I hope everyone watches.
The party life distraction closer to home
I had a friend that got a full scholarship to play basketball in college in Philippines. This was a great opportunity for him to get a free education and be able to play against good competition and further his basketball.
What happened? A mix of the party life and women kept him out mosts nights which resulted in him coming late to trainings and in some cases missing trainings all together.
Personally, I can’t ever speak from experience on this topic because as soon as I started to take basketball seriously almost 20 years ago. I would not allow anything to interfere with my training. I rarely went out at night and if I had training at night I was in bed early.
I have seen these distractions ruin basketball players careers. If it doesn’t get players cut it’ll sure make basketball players quit the game. As someone who has seen this time and time again avoid these traps and keep your sights set to your dreams. If these distractions take you away from basketball then basketball isn’t your calling.