How Good Do You Have To Be To Play Professional Basketball or Overseas Basketball?

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People ask me this question as if there is some measure I can give them. There isn’t, but I do have some guidelines that could help you gage if you’re up to par:

  • You Must Be Disciplined. Discipline Is A Skill. There are practices — lots of practices — and often many more practices than games (I have experienced as much as a 10:1 ratio, practicing twice per day Monday-Friday and having one game per week on Saturday). You have to show up and show out, especially since you are one of a few — and maybe the only — foreign guy there: You are held to a different standard. Everyone is watching you, every day. You cannot be late. You can’t coast, even when everyone else is.
  • How Good Do You Have To Be To Play Basketball Overseas/Professional? dre baldwin dreallday.comShit Aint Fair. Can You Perform Through It?  Refs have no incentive to give you calls; actually it’s quite the opposite. You’re an American, you’re supposed to score through that obvious uncalled foul (especially if you’re the most athletic guy on the floor — don’t expect whistles unless there’s an egregious play). You’re an American, you’re supposed to score on that guy easily, even as he holds you every time you move (see next point). You’re an American, this freezing cold, dusty gym shouldn’t stop you from dominating the game/practice (what a coach told me — through my teammate translator — in practice one day in Montenegro).
  • Everything Should Be — Or Appear To Be — Easier For You Than Everyone Else. An agent I was dealing with in Germany brought me to practice with some team. One part of practice was a 1-on-1 drill and I found myself matched up with this long and lanky 19-year-old German kid. In 5 attempts on offense and defense, i scored and every time and the German kid scored zero.  The floor was dusty as fuck though, and I couldn’t make hard cuts, so I used a lot of basic stuff to score — footwork, posting, shot fakes, etc. Later that night, said agent and his assistant said to me, ‘yeah you scored, but it was too hard for you. You have to score on him easily, like with one dribble.’ This way of thinking was and is complete bullshit, but that’s the way they look at Americans in many places.
  • You’d Better Dominate. And Make Everyone Else Perform Better. If You Do Only One Or The Other, Something’s Wrong With You. I came to a team once in the middle of the season, replacing a point guard who was averaging 30 points per game. He was doing great and the team was OK, but the complaint from management was that the replaced player wasn’t helping the improvement of any of the young guys (read: Local players from that country who represent the future of the country/organization); he was just out for himself. I also played on a team where I played more of the all-around role — passing up scoring opportunities to set up other guys, focusing on defense and rebounding — and was told, in no uncertain terms, that I’d better put some points on the board if I planned on sticking around in that league, or any other league for that matter, as an American 2-guard. You are Superman. Every day. And as soon as you slip up, they’ll start looking for a new Clark Kent.
  • You Will Be Battling Other Americans For Your Job, Check, And Career. Some people in the USA think that if they go play overseas it’ll be easy pickins’, going up against some soft European ballplayer. They don’t get that many times you won’t be facing Euros at all — your matchup is that one American guy the other team has. All game. You guard him, he guards you. It’ll be just like you’re back in the states, except your job is on the line. And your future jobs, too, as everyone in that league is watching that matchup. You ready to complete against another guy who is playing for his family’s food?
  • How Good Do You Have To Be To Play Basketball Overseas/Professional? dre baldwin dreallday.comMany Clubs’ Training Methods Are 20 Years Behind The USA’s. Deal With It. Some teams don’t know what a dynamic warmup is. A foam roller? Good luck. With all the information we have these days, we know that the 170 pound, 5’9″ point guard and the 7-foot, 285 pound center should not be doing the same weightlifting routine. But I have been on clubs where the lifting program was one-size-fits-all, and you’d better do it. Think you’re going to explain to the coach how you don’t like doing the bench press or triceps extensions because it’ll mess up your shot? How you don’t squat because it isn’t good for your knees in-season? How will you do that, when you’re supposed to be the shining example for the rest of the team? How, when the coach or trainer doesn’t even speak fluent English? You’re asking out of weight room work when everyone else is doing it? You, the American? No chance.
  • If You Are Still Asking “How Good You Need To Be To Play Pro Ball”, You Aren’t Good Enough. Yet. Change Your Thinking. This is a plain and simple fact. See that perfect 10 woman at the other end of the bar? If you have to ask yourself, for even a second, if you’re in her league to go approach her, you aren’t. Period. If you’re not sure you’re good enough to play basketball for money, you ain’t there yet.The good news is, you don’t have to stay that way. You can make the conscious decision to step your game — your mental game — up. There is not much of a support system when you’re in some foreign country and can’t speak the language and have nothing familiar around you and everyone is expecting everything from you. They’re expecting support from you. Understand? You’re the strong one. You’re the leader. You’re the example-setter. This is called mental fortitude. Questioning yourself and your abilities is the exact opposite of mental fortitude. You need to get yourself some, and never run out of it, if you’re going to make a profession out of this.

Ready to Sign Your First Playing Contract? Get my FREE book, The Overseas Basketball Blueprint Here

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The Overseas Basketball Blueprint Dre Baldwin


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