What Separates the Good From the Great?
In addition to good genetics, there are other physical and mental attributes that can be trained  to make the difference.  The following list of commonalities found in the great athletes of all levels are listed below:

• leadership skills
• a vast understanding of their sport (both innate and learned)
an intense work ethic
• a killer instinct
exceptional read-and-react skills for anticipating their opponent( s)
• standing strength that seems to exceed their weight room strength
• phenomenal speed
• coordinated agility
• a fluid body capable of advanced skill execution
• emotional stability
mental toughness
a positive attitude
• realistic goals
• focus
• effort
• persistence
• a competitive nature

Many of these seem cliché but if you give each some thought you will realize that they can all be improved through training of some sort.  Take the six that have been printed in BOLD, each one of these traits can be developed.  Challenge yourself to make a difference in these areas and you will become a better athlete.

coachability – Take the task of listening to another level, by listening to learn what is being taught and use the instruction.

an intense work ethic –  Some people just seem to have this, but others can conquer this with mental toughness and knowing that someone is working harder than you are….and it might be your next opponent.  Practice with the goal of increasing your game play level and competitiveness.

exceptional read-and-react skills for anticipating their opponent( s) –  This may be one of the most important traits in any contest as well as the most underused in the youth programs today.  Instead of relying on plays and schemes to get results, running them like robots, use opponents to your advantage to create results by being unpredictable.

passion –  If you have heart you can do anything.  The only trick with this one is being able to use it positively and not letting out too much steam for the wrong reasons.

mental toughness –  Train yourself to know that if you WANT something, you will have to sacrifice.  Only YOU can control your actions and emotions and how you choose to use them in the most productive way.

a positive attitude –  Don’t criticize your teammates, coaches, fans, refs, or yourself.  It doesn’t help and only spreads like illness.  There is not much worse than being disrespected so don’t do it.   See things for how they can be after you achieve your goals and make the utmost attempt to be positive and respectful which in turn will develop a leader.


Against All Odds

sumo-kidAfter 4 days of practices and the most team scouting we had ever consumed we were ready to get it on, but as we sat on the bus getting ready for the ride across the plain to face the #2 team in the state, we wondered if the media and “talkers” were right, that we were way over our heads going against a proven powerhouse.  Our team was prepared on the practice floor but meeting face to face with these guys would be totally different as they would be the REAL THING.   While on that ride, there wasn’t much goofing around or even talking but more pointedly focused players listening to music and tearing through the media guide in anticipation of that nights matchup.  Our challenger had two of the top scorers in their league at that time and both were first team selections, a sharp shooting guard and a uber-talented 6-6 post player.  They also sent 4 of the 5 starters on to college programs the next year so they were a big time threat to go onto the state tourney and make some noise.  When we arrived at the event center, loading into the locker rooms we passed one of our city rivals who had just lost the game prior to us.  The guys were upset and crying as for some it was the last game of their prep careers.  What astounded us was that after battling with them three times that season in semi ugly, rivalry fashion,  they were now giving us praise to take the Big Nine Champions out.  This moment gave us some added motivation, not to say we weren’t motivated, but it jazzed us up a little more and gave us an extra attitude going into the game.  After changing and coming out of the locker room  to face the proverbial giant, we didn’t notice anything we hadn’t seen before, just another team in a different color and different faces.  Yes the stands were roaring for them but we were also used to that.  Warm-ups were finished and starting line-ups were announced, we huddled before coming out for the jump ball, and right then WE decided that were going to give them NO respect and go after them ruthlessly and break them!  Needless to say the first possession of the game went to them and they ran the shooter off of a triple staggered screen and he hit a baseline three in my eye.  THREE – ZERO.  Now that’s truly when game started as it went our way from then on!  We took charges, we dove on every loose ball, we crashed the boards hard, we jammed cutters, we made the right pass, we posted their little guards, we attacked their press, we challenged ALL of their shots,  we broke out and dunked!  WE played as we were coached and held the shooter to 11 points with only that one three pointer. he averaged 18 on the season.  We bottled up the big man and kept him in single digits for the game.  That building and the area newspapers were shocked when we knocked off the Big Nine Champs to take another step toward the state tourney!   Did I mention to say that this ride stemmed from an 0-5 GSL start?  We didn’t back down and we went at everyone full force despite the challenges.

Tis the season Spokane, let it rip at state!