My name is Joe McCloskey and I play college basketball at the University of Maine at Fort Kent which plays in the USCAA Athletic Association. I was honored with All American status this year and have learned some basketball life lessons along the way. By no means do I think I have life “all figured out,” but these are some lessons worthy of sharing.
Basketball is my favorite sport for so many reasons, but I’d have to say the main reason is that it requires you to combine physical skill with mental prowess in order to fully succeed as a player. When you do this, it directly translates to you as a person, it goes so much deeper than you just dribbling a ball on the court, it shapes who you are in such a positive way. Here are my top 4 life lessons basketball can teach.
The importance of mental and physical preparation
Its impossible to master the sport without having a strong body and a strong mind. Basketball is such a long season, in order to make it you must have a body fully ready to take a beating. The best thing you can do for yourself is be in constant contact with your athletic trainer and complete the recommended training regiments. Doing this will ensure you are able to make it through such a long season. Healthy body equals healthy mind. Such a long season certainly has plenty of ups and downs that can be tough on the mind, but recognizing these issues are only temporary and being able to stay focused and true to the grind is such an important skill to have. Players must adopt an optimistic and winning mindset to achieve greatness. These two traits must go together you cannot have one without the other. The life lesson this offer is that you have to have a healthy mind and body to live the life you want to live, so even off the court, these two traits go hand in hand.
Avoid Selfish Behavior / Be a Team Player
Basketball is a team sport, meaning that no one member can win the game by themselves. It’s a collaborative effort; if you are not willing to put your own personal goals and wants behind the overall success of the team, then you are not meant to be a basketball player. You must be willing to accept your role, whatever the coach asks of you, and whatever the team needs you to do, you don’t ask questions you just do it and do it well. In the end, winning is the only thing that matters, everyone must adopts a mindset that the team victory is more important that individual stats any day of the week. While my individual stats were solid enough to earn All American status, that award is the result of a team effort. My coach who drew up the offense, my teammates that put their stats on the back burner to get me the ball in the post with a great post entry pass, etc., all are partly responsible for me winning this award. The lesson that this teaches off the court is that its important to remain humble and give back to the people who helped you get to where you are at.
The Ability to React to Adversity
Let downs are inevitable, but when something isn’t going your way, evaluate it, understand it, and then find out how you can make it work for you. Game plans don’t always play out the way we envision them, that’s where we find it in ourselves to make the proper adjustments and continue to strive for victory, never lay down and die when life gets hard, push through and persevere. The way this translates to life is that life presents many challenges and its imperative that we push through and adjust our game plan to make it work for us.
Understanding the Fundamentals
A firm understanding of the fundamentals of basketball is a prerequisite of being a basketball player. Without understanding the rules, the do’s and dont’s and in’s and out’s of basketball you cannot possibly be successful. How to pass, dribble, and shoot, the right way is a great start in becoming a skilled player.
The way this translates off the court is that you must have a good grip on what it means to be a good person, what it takes to succeed, and the steps you want to take to achieve your own personal goals. Life is not always about shotcuts, hacks, or “work smarter, not harder.” Understanding the fundamentals of life can guarantee success if coupled with hard work and determination. Let’s get to work this off season!
Joe McCloskey is a guest contributor offering us insight into the highly competitive world of small college basketball. Joe was a USCAA All American this year at the University of Maine at Fort Kent averaging 19.7 points and 8.6 rebounds while also having a great comeback year in the classroom.