The other night my wife and I drove 45 minutes one way to get ice cream. That's right, ice cream! It's not because there isn't any ice cream closer—quite the opposite. We have multiple ice cream shops within five minutes of our house. We drove 45 minutes because we wanted the best. Am I crazy? Maybe. But I'm willing to do whatever it takes to be the best, get the best, and understand that's what it takes.
What are YOU willing to do?
It's funny to me as a coach that kids will often spend thousands of dollars going to a variety of camps and showcases to get "seen," yet very few will spend the money to improve their game. I'm always a big believer of taking advantage of your opportunities as a person and player. That's how the best capitalize on their opportunities. To see an example of this you don't need to look any further than Jeremy Lin.
Last year Lin, after battling playing-time issues, finally caught a break (because of injuries) and took full advantage of it. Fast forward one year later and Lin now signed a multi-year deal worth more than $25 million! How was Lin able to transform from a player who was going to be released to an NBA superstar?
I am very fond of telling my athletes to "trust the process." You must be willing to put in effort every single day that you train. That means not skipping workouts, training sessions, and skill work. You must show up every day, and put in the work needed. Not every day is going to a "great" day. You're going to have many days that are a struggle—these are the days when the successful push through. They show up, do the workout, and move on. It's most important to get the workout done. I can't tell you the number of athletes I know who simply skip workouts because they don't feel their best. Guess what? Most days you won't feel your best.
Showing up is half the battle.
Learn From the Best
One of the biggest regrets I have as a kid is from not seeking out help from people like myself (that's why I do this). The beauty of the Internet is that you can learn and train with products from many of the best strength coaches, skill trainers, and sport psychologists in the world. With the click of a mouse you can download an entire training program, get video instruction, and do it for a fraction of the hands-on cost. Now don't get me wrong, hands-on definitely has more value, but for many athletes hands-on training isn't financially or logistically feasible. How can someone from China train with me on a daily basis (in the United States)? Only through the Internet.
Do yourself a favor and invest in yourself by learning from the best in the business. Strength coaches like Alan Stein offer a variety of products and camps (check out my interview with Alan here. Skill coaches like Dave Hopla and Hal Wissel offer shooting programs, camps, and tutorials (be sure to check out Coach Hopla's interview here and Coach Wissel's website here. Spend some time and learn from these people and take advantage of their services.
Don't block the pathway—I had a conversation with the owner of PGC Basketball Dena Evans on the phone this past winter. I spent probably 45 minutes with her on the phone contemplating a career change. Part way through the conversation Dena stopped me and said to me (and I'm paraphrasing), "Make sure that you don't go looking so hard for opportunities that you miss the one that's coming to you." The more I thought about this the more sense it made. Don't be so focused on a certain aspect or area that you completely miss other opportunities.
I see kids all of the time focusing on one goal or aspect and then missing a great opportunity because they don't even see it.
The old saying by Thomas Edison: "we often miss opportunity because it's dressed in overalls and looks like work," is very true. Too many people don't know what opportunity even looks like and consequently they end up missing out on some life-changing moments. Always be "opportunistic," and look for ways to become more successful.
The question is always: what are you willing to do? Are you willing to get up at 5 or 6 a.m. to get a lift in? Are you willing to sacrifice the beach to shoot in a stuffy gym? Are you willing to skip a new pair of sneakers to buy a training program? I've worked with athletes ranging from youth through professional. If there is one common theme it's that the successful players are willing to do things that the rest of the players won't.