How to Balance Winning with Getting Personal Shine in Basketball

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I had a college teammate named Gus who could score thirty any given day. 

Gus knew this, and he would even brag about his stats whenever the trash talk began. 

The only thing about Gus was that he played the game as if he was the only one on the court. 

Gus was a point guard and a very talented player with pro-level skills. He had handle, could shoot, play great defense, AND had the hops to dunk on you. 

Gus should have played ten years overseas. 

Gus had two problems, though. 1) he never went to class, becoming academically ineligible after one semester and flunking out of college 2) hardly anyone else played well when Gus was on the floor because Gus was such a selfish player. 

Any basketball player who’s aiming for forward progress (read: you want to play at a higher level than where you’re currently at) must deal with two sometimes-opposing forces at battle. 

One one hand, you have team success and winning. 

Basketball is a team sport, after all, and the objective of the game is for the team to win. Most of the players on every team have to sacrifice a bit for the better of the team. 

On the other hand, you, as a forward-progressing player, need to show your skills to the decision makers who can recruit and sign you to the next level. 

While your team may ask you to play a limited (to you) role, you believe you’ll need to show much more of your skill set to make it to the next level — and you know you’ll need to use them once you get there. 

You don’t want to be a selfish player with your club, and you also don’t want to get left behind when the recruiting happens. 

What do you do? 

1) Keep the main thing where it belongs. “Wow, I really need this player who cares more about his stats than winning!” — Said NO COACH, EVER. 

Play to win. Know your role and do what’s asked of you. Don’t mope or complain. People notice these things and will cross you off their list of they see a player who won’t listen or has a bad attitude. 

2) Expand your game. Increase the number of things you can do well on a court — in other words, have more ways that you can help the team. 

This helps in two ways. 1) You will be on the court more often [because there are not many scenarios where you would be a liability] and 2) The more you’re on the court, the more chances you give yourself to get a highlight, accumulate stats, and show someone that you have a skill that could help their team. 

3) Don’t aim for stats. This is another too-obvious thing that too many players do that they think they’re getting away with. 

Just because no one says anything, doesn’t mean no one saw it. They didn’t tell you because they’re not interested in you anymore. 

4) Be aggressive and assertive — while under control. One day in practice my freshman year in college, Coach Mo told a player named Roberto to be “more aggressive” as we ran through our offensive sets. 

Roberto shot the ball the next five times he touched it. 

Coach Mo then advised Roberto, “being aggressive doesn’t mean ‘jack up shots.’”

Playing aggressively and assertively means to be aware and active on the court — the kinds of things that not only create opportunities for you, but contributes to winning for the team (the key mix). 

Some examples: 

  • Cutting when off the ball on offense 
  • Never standing around on offense 
  • Crashing the boards on offense and defense 
  • Talking constantly on defense 
  • Setting screens for teammates 
  • Not holding the ball on offense — drive, pass or shoot within 1 second 

Putting all these into action, you will 1) make your team better — which means more wins, 2) make yourself more valuable to the team — increasing your playing time, and 3) show yourself as an even better player — which markets your skills. 

Putting things in motion is much more a mental challenge than a physical one. That’s why I created the Bulletproof Bundle, my 4 best books on Mindset. You can order it here: http://WorkOnMyGame.com/BB 

#WorkOnYourGame 

-Dre Baldwin 

Remember: You’re Just One Bold Move Away… 

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