Everything worthwhile in life requires an element of sacrifice
Many high school athletes say they want to continue their sports career at the post-secondary level. Unfortunately, that will not happen for most of them. Whether it is from lack of training, unrealistic expectations or a lack of awareness of what the life of a university student athlete looks like, many high school basketball players are not prepared for what basketball after graduation entails. Here is what you need to make that jump …
Time Management and Commitment
Being a university student athlete is a full-time job that includes responsibilities 7 days a week. As a student, you will have at least 12 hours of class/week plus potential labs, tutorials and homework. As an athlete, you will have another 15-25 hours/week of commitments consisting of team practices and film, individual sessions, weight training and games. These combined 27-37 hours/week are a baseline and does not include travel time for games or any additional time you put in. It is one thing to like the beautiful game of basketball, but it is another thing to practice consistent discipline and organization over the course of a season (and career). If you want to be prepared for this next level of commitment, don’t wait until university - start putting the time in now so the adjustment feels more manageable!
Humility and Confidence
Whether you are currently coming off the bench, starting most games or being selected for every all star game imaginable, there will be players that are bigger, stronger, and more talented (+ experienced) than you on any university team. You need to be able to drop your ego at the door and embrace the challenge. Coaches do not want players who are focused on what they have already accomplished, they are looking for players who know they still have a lot to learn. However, you should not walk into the gym intimidated by those around you. Fear and self-doubt will not help you at the next level. Remember that if a coach is recruiting you or has welcomed you onto their team, you are there for a reason. It may take some time to receive a specific role on a team but if you staying humble & confident will help you adjust to the new level.
Perseverance and Optimism
You may have already faced some challenges in your life but trust me - you will face more. Whether it is an injury, lack of playing time, a disagreement with a teammate, a shooting slump, loss of an academic scholarship, a break up, etc., adversity will find you during your post-secondary career. You will have a very difficult time as student-athlete if you are not ready to persevere through some bumps in the road. Even on this path towards playing at the next level, try embracing the mindset that there is a lesson in every failure and an opportunity for improvement through every struggle. Use your friends and family to gain perspective and stay positive. Keeping the faith through the tough times can make your basketball journey unbelievably rewarding!
One Special Skill
Now, don’t get me wrong, to make it as a university basketball player you can’t ONLY be organized, committed, humble, confident, optimistic and determined - you also have to be able to HOOP! However, too many players get overwhelmed or distracted trying to become great at everything and just end up being good. What is the one thing you can hang your hat on? What can a coach count on you to do? You may be a lockdown defender, a knockdown shooter, a tenacious rebounder, an unstoppable slasher, an impeccable ball handler, a beast in the post...whatever your strength is, work on emphasizing it so you can stand out. Develop an irreplaceable skillset to get noticed, then round out your game using all of the characteristics above!
Now that you know what it takes - do you still want it?
This post was written by Right Way coach, Clare Murphy, who is currently completing her Bachelor of Education degree at the University of Ottawa while also serving as an assistant coach the Women's Varsity Basketball Team.