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  • Writer's pictureWayne Lafley

So you want to be a basketball player? - Steve Pratt

So you want to be a basketball player?

Basketball is the ultimate team sport and an individual sport at the same time. You can't win a championship if you play selfish and you can't become the best version of yourself if you don't work on your individual game. My philosophy as a player was to develop into a great player. I wasn't playing to play; I was pursuing being great! Which caused a lot of speculation because I wasn't very good. Terrible is probably a better definition. Football was my primary sport growing up, and my childhood passion three states and 12 years was a blast, but it came to a sharp halt in my heart when I didn't make the Vermont Shine Team.

So, following that failure basketball become my passion!

I had started playing my sophomore year of high school pickup games with friends and adults; after I was a senior following football season, I made a decision to become a basketball player. There wasn't much support for my plan to become a college player when I had never played on an organized team and had been cut as a sophomore from the team; you can see why. But I thought I could do it. I believed! For a poor kid from a rural state, I was in the right town. In Bennington, Vermont, in the 1980s basketball, was the sport. Dave Fredrickson (Mt Anthony Union HS Hall of Fame coach) had a great system of development in place. People loved the game there. They won a lot! Even though I didn't official ever play in his system, he did allow me to play in the offseason with the players in their open gyms in Kates Gymnasium with upcoming players and alumni. I also cased out every place to play pickup in Bennington county and hunted for games with anyone at any time.

When I got to Johnson State College, I still wasn't very good, and many people would tell me that. Then I got cut. I Failed. I immediately ask the coach if I could practice with the team, and he let me keep practicing because of my hard work and enthusiasm. Meanwhile, I kept playing and training on my own. Play anywhere with anyone at any time. By the time I left Johnson State College, I had gone from being cut to a three-year starter at point guard. Over my years as a player and coach I had developed many friendships and a brotherhood of hoopers ranging from Johnson, Vermont to Angola, and from Chicago, Illinois to Australia.

There isn't a team in the NBA or WNBA that I haven't trained a player that has played there. Players and coaches I have relationships with have won Gold Medals in the FIBA World Championships and the Olympics. This has been a wild ride in this wonderful game of basketball

After 35 years of training to be a basketball player, playing, training players, and coaching players and teams, here's what I have learned. Number 1. A person can make themselves a player with hard work.

- You need to have a ball in your hands every day.

- Ballhandling drills 20 -30 min a day. Driving for layups off dribble moves, either hand either foot, changing speeds, different angles make 100 to 200 driving shots a day

- Shooting make 150 form shots a day, and 250 game shots a day. Develop your shooting form, then work on speed of release and range.

Number 2. A coach can help the person become a player if they are coachable.

- Find a coach that is invested in your improvement with an understanding of player development. (this is easier said than done; finding development coaches is not easy.)

- Get the coach's feedback and develop a plan of development from their recommendations.

- Ask questions and then listen to the coach and watch what they do.

Once you have done number 1, then start finding other players to play and train with. Competing in development is vital to transitioning your skill work into functional game skills. Playing 1on 1 is great for your on-ball defense and your individual scoring on a defender. 2on 2, 3on 3, 4on 4 are perfect for getting lots of game reps and developing game reads while competing. The final step and most challenging is finding your tribe. Who are you putting in your foxhole of development? Choose wisely you only have so much time and you want it to be spent competing against competitors that make you better. Finding players to pursue your dreams is key. I never turned down anyone, everyone became part of my plan I never discriminated and some of my best friends come out of that process. Wayne Lafley was a 13-year-old 8th grader that I used to beat the crap out of in one on one. I took those games seriously. Because of his being willing to keep showing up we are more like brothers than friends and that's because we trained together for years as players and fought battles on the court before we became old coaches. Becoming a player is small decisions you make by yourself and big decisions you make about who you put around you. Choose wisely Steven Pratt Founder Fullpackage Athletics



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