7-time NBA All-Star
Join Date: Jun 2008
Re: Preparation for High School Ball
1. How to be mentally tough on and off the court: Maturity. One must be confident in their own game without crossing that line into debilitating cockiness. It doesn't help to be timid, but it also doesn't help to be a jerk. Just be sure in what you're doing while still remaining open to assistance or criticism from fellow players/coaches.
Personally, even when I'm overmatched, I find comfort (and some would say, mental toughness) in knowing that regardless of skill, my opponent's going to get a fight from me. The toughness is being able to the play the game regardless of circumstance. If a player gets dunked on, is he wilting? Or is he coming back strong and poised?
Off the court, mental toughness is being sure in your own decisions. I sometimes had issues early in high school whenever I tried to appease those around me instead of doing what I felt and knew was the right thing. Not being afraid to be yourself and doing the right thing is mental toughness to me.
2. Ways to balance schoolwork, family, and sports: Family obviously is at the top of the food chain. However, schoolwork is a close second. There's a couple of different ways to look at that. One, schoolwork can survive without basketball but basketball can't survive without schoolwork. Second, schoolwork allows you to function throughout the rest of your life. Basketball does not.
Also, you've already begun the school year, but make sure you've jumped on your studies right away. Every single semester is a building block toward college. My younger brother had a rough sophomore year in the classroom and now he's left playing catchup, trying to make up for lost time so he can earn admittance to the colleges he prefers to attend. Many classes build upon one another. Do the work, knock them down as they come.
To further reiterate, college coaches are much more inclined to be drawn to a player if they're a great student just as well. Doing well in school while juggling family and sports is tough, but it's necessary. Be disciplined.
3. Diets for gaining mass: I do not have feedback in this regard. I was a 6'4'' 175 pound power forward at a mid-sized high school. I will say, be conscious of the mass you wish to put on. It's very possible to be strong and hold your own in basketball even at a light weight.
4. Best type of protein supplements: I have nothing to provide in this regard.
5. How to get adjusted to VERY physical play( our league is known to be one of the toughest in all of California and I've heard from people that even the freshman teams regularly feature players 6'4 and taller) plus the referees will let a lot of contact slide and what would be called somewhere else probably won't be called by them: I think we have to be real here. In your large league, 9th grade basketball with be a step up but at the end of the day, it's still just basketball. When we talk physicality, there's always going to be limits, because it's basketball. Folks aren't going to be truck sticking you and whatnot.
With that said, I actually think playing pickup basketball can be a good help in this regard. I've found a lot of the non-call hits I tended to take in open gyms or at the park seemed to acclimate me to a game style featuring an above-average amount of contact.
This may be obvious, but never back down and do not shy away from contact. I had an opportunity two weeks ago to see two of my brother's sophomore teammates shrink when they matched up with a couple of big fellas. They spent most of the game needlessly swerving and double pumping on all their layup attempts, fearful of being blocked or hit. One must fight through this.
6. How to get 'into the zone' (I know this is different for everybody but I just want the hear all of your personal opinions). Being in the zone means focusing only on the moment and basically like the crowd, the benches don't even exist it's just you out there feeling unstoppable: I was always extremely conscious of the crowd. Early in the sophomore year, a helpful solution was to tell myself that none of what I was doing on the court really mattered. I could score 23 points and grab 12 rebounds and the girl I had a crush on who was watching the game would forget about my performance by morning. Further, if I played terribly, same story. Classmates will go home and say, "Our team won/lost" and they'll move on.
I also had to fake my own cockiness. Regardless of what I told myself, I cared more than anyone else on the floor, at all times. So I got to a point where I just had to tell myself that I was the man and I didn't care about anything. I developed some mannerisms even that evoked confidence and aloofness, just to convince myself it was all good.
You know what else helps? Believing in yourself. My true, non-faked comfort (or zone) finally kicked in for good during a pre-game handshake my junior year when an opposing coach said, "Good luck, Ryan". The fact a random coach knew who I was (and my first name no-less) finally made me believe in my own skills. As in, I must be doing something right if people outside of my own school know me. This allowed me to play with a feeling of, "Someone's going to have to stop me, because I'm good enough to make things happen." It would have been easier had I just believed in myself in the first place though.
7. Tips on perimeter defense especially on how to not get caught with fakes/jabs( players will constantly change between shot fakes and actual shots or various counter moves/hands-up moves): Quick feet, agility, being in great shape, staying on your toes. People always say defense is effort. And that's true, but it's not just about the effort happening at that very moment on the basketball court. It's about the effort you've poured in for hours upon hours leading up to that moment.
Many players approach defense as an interim between offensive possessions. I recommend fighting that urge, particularly in practice. I saw someone post a video on this board from the Lakers practice the other day. One of the most impressive things I took from that clip? Steve Nash picking up at half court and locking down on every possession of a 5-on-5-on-5 drill. Often, high school players get it twisted in terms of what kind of effort is necessary in practice. To become the defender you want to be, you'll have to believe in yourself and know that non-stop hardwork (and failure) is what will pave the way for you to succeed, even if those around you do not share these same beliefs.
8. How to fight through moving screens that don't get called: This is sort of a survival tactic. It's very helpful to know whether the person you're guarding is someone you're going to want to go beneath a screen on (and risk letting them take a jumpshot) or someone you want to go over the screen on (limiting jumpshot possibilities but maybe encouraging a drive).
Illegal screens are going to happen. You're going to want to be aware of the court space around you and be hopeful your teammates are vocal in letting you know when a screen is about to occur. Your teammate is often very integral in the results of a pick or screen situation. Is he going to hedge to allow you to recover? Is he going to trap the ballhandler? Switch? It's helpful to have a game plan when it comes to playing through screens. If nothing else, just scrap and fight.
Last edited by Rake2204 : 10-10-2012 at 10:26 AM.