The No-Gym Experiment That Ended My Career

In Work On Your Game [The Book]
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I felt my excitement for basketball training was beginning to wane.

Since graduating from Penn State Altoona in 2004, I’d dedicated at least some part of every day to basketball — working on my game to get better; reaching out to pro teams to continue my career; contacting agents to represent me. Some of my ideas worked and some didn’t, but I was always trying something.

All the while, I’d built a name for myself online by posting homemade and amateurly-edited videos of myself practicing basketball to YouTube, and I’d become an entrepreneur through creating training programs and processing tens of thousands of orders through my Shopify store.

But something inside of me told me I was face-to-face with what I’d always known: basketball isn’t lasting forever.

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You see, I’d played basketball at an NCAA division 3 school. D3 schools don’t offer athletic scholarships. Our coaches are often not always full-time employees (the coach who’d recruited me to Altoona worked in the campus admissions office). My school didn’t even charge students admission to come to our basketball games. Most D3 athletes don’t have professional sports ambitions, and for good reason: D3 athletes are third-tier talents who shouldn’t be thinking about the pros.

I was more ambitious than most D3 athletes, but I wasn’t damn LeBron James: I knew that making it pro would be a struggle (it was) and I knew that, even after my career began in Lithuania in 2005,  I couldn’t sit back and think that the next contact would just happen (it often didn’t). And the same idea applied to the contract after that, and the one after that.

I knew, before I’d even gotten signed the first time to play pro basketball, that I’d need to have other, non-playing skills that were worth something to the world at large.

Now, in 2014, it was time to test myself and see if I was ready to dive head-first into using those skills.

So I stayed out of the gyms for a week.

Both gyms — basketball and the weight room. I did yoga in South Pointe Park every day to get my activity fix. I went to the beach — a rare occurrence, even though I lived in South Beach, three blocks from the water. In place of the workouts, I updated my website, worked on my books, and started figuring out what was next, and what it would look like.

I wasn’t sure I’d survive that week.

For the previous ten years, if I didn’t work out at least twice in a day, I felt like a slacker, as if I hadn’t lived that day. My main concern for the no-gym week was that I’d go stir crazy from not working out 2-3 hours each day.

My concerns were proven unnecessary.

I felt fine not training. I didn’t miss the jumpshots or the bench pressing or the treadmill.

I was ready to walk away from basketball.

And the same work ethic that I’d needed to become somebody in sports, I would need again to become somebody outside of it.

I’ll tell you how I did that in my new book Work On Your Game: Using The Pro Athlete Mindset To Dominate In Sports, Business and Life. I’m giving away a ton of preorder bonuses — get the details here.

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