Arizona seems custom-made for basketball. Players have the advantage of being able to play outside year-round, unlike less fortunate players in more northerly climes. Playing basketball offers Arizonan kids an opportunity to build skills that help them both on and off the courts. Not every lesson learned during basketball practice is physical. A good basketball player has to practice, but mental attitude is at least as important as physical talents. Team work, sportsmanship and an ability to learn from mistakes transform an average player into a true athlete. Embrace Team Work We live in a culture that values and worships individual talent. The quintessential American hero is the loner who wins the day relying only on his own wit and talent. Even the military slogan “Army of One” emphasizes this love of the self-reliant hero. Basketball isn’t immune to this trend. The media talk of stars like Jordan and Bryant as though they've single-handedly won games. Of course they didn’t: each was part of a team that functioned as a whole. You may have more or less talent than other members of your team, but that isn’t as important as being part of the team. In a match between talented players with no sense of teamwork and average players who work well together, teamwork wins out every time. What does this mean for you as a player? Sometimes it means giving up a shot because a teammate has a better position. Sometimes it means giving up a chance to be the game hero to ensure a team victory. The ability to work as part of a team serves you well in life, both on and off the courts. Show Respect and Sportsmanship Sportsmanship is a direct measure of your worth as a person, despite the fact that “being a good sport” seems to have fallen out of vogue these days. Poor sportsmanship can, unfortunately, always be found. It’s present in dirty tricks on the court, and in coaches who holler and complain at every official call. It’s present in players who resent a teammate's success, and in parents who yell abuse at their child’s coach. A good sport respects her teammates, her coach, the officials and her opponents. Perhaps more importantly, a good sport respects herself. Good sportsmanship makes you a better player, but more importantly, makes you a better person. Get Active in Many Ways Basketball provides a fantastic cardiovascular workout that gets you in shape and keeps you fit. So why would you need any other physical activity? Other physical activity improves your game. Running and swimming improve endurance. Weight training adds strength. Yoga, tai chi and similar exercise increase flexibility and improve balance. Any type of physical activity off the basketball court adds to your overall fitness and makes you a more versatile athlete. Learn From Losing Losing can make you a better basketball player. When you lose you have the opportunity to step back and, without casting blame, ask why. Identify what caused the loss, and how you would handle the same problem if it happened in another game. Resolve not to make the same mistakes in the next game. When Chuck Norris actively competed in karate he had a rule about losing matches: He promised himself never to lose a match the same way twice. Norris turned every defeat into a chance to become a better competitor. While basketball’s emotional and mental lessons can be learned in any situation, kids are most likely to develop these skills at basketball camps. Basketball camps emphasize team work and the critical mental attitudes need for success on the courts and in the classroom where academic requirements are part of the formula for a successful career. References: None Sidebar: Early Registration for Basketball Camps Summer basketball camps fill up quickly. Basketball is, after all, one of the most popular sports in the U.S. While you can still find openings for basketball camps in the early summer, parents who want their kids to go to the best basketball camps are advised to look into registration in the spring.