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.
Can An Expert Basketball Trainer Nail
March Madness Picks?
It’s that time again, March Madness is here and so are office pools and bracket wagers. With Kentucky being the best college basketball team in recent memory, maybe even the best ever, it is hard to bet against them. However, beyond that, there does not seem to be any other dominant team in the tournament and anyone has the potential to win any given game. That alone should make this a really competitive NCAA tournament and one worth watching. So with potentially the most exciting tournament only days away, I will once again give you my picks that are sure to go wrong.
Let’s start in the Midwest with the presumed to be eventual champion Kentucky. I see no reason not to put them straight through to the Final Four here but here’s how the rest of this should pan out. Cincinnati/Purdue is a toss up and should be a tight one but I’m taking Cincinnati simply because I’m not sold on the Big Ten this season. WVU vs. Buffalo is Bobby’s Hurley’s triumphant return to the NCAA tournament and his Buffalo team will not disappoint. Take them in the the first 12-5 upset of the tourney, yes there’s two. In Maryland vs. Valpo there is no Bryce Drew to hit a miraculous shot here. Maryland wins and will then end Buffalo’s short run before losing to Kentucky who makes easy work of the terps.
In the bottom half of the bracket it’s Notre Dame’s half to lose as they are the class of these teams. Texas will give them a run for their money in the second round but the Irish shoot the ball way too well to lose to an athletic albeit, not a great scoring Texas team.
Take Wichita State in the first round and then again in the second round over the oddly surprising two seed, Kansas. Wichita has been wanting to play the Jayhawks for years and this time they get their wish and pull out the victory riding the backs of their tremendous backcourt of Van Vleet and Baker.
The Shockers cannot get past ACC tournament champs Notre Dame though who was on a collision course with Kentucky from the time these brackets were announced. Could the Irish give them trouble? Yes, because Kentucky will be forced to guard the guard dominant Irish on the perimeter but in the end Kentucky’s ability to rebound is too much and the Wildcats will make the Final Four
The West looks like a repeat of last year’s bracket that saw Wisconsin advancing to the Final Four after beating Baylor, Oregon, and Arizona. Guess what, all three of those teams could stand in their way of a colossal matchup with Kentucky in this year’s Final Four.
Take Wisconsin in the first round with an easy win to set up a repeat with the Ducks of Oregon who dispatch of Oklahoma St in their first round game. Oregon will need all the new Nike’s they can get to deal with Wisconsin who is just too good for the Ducks and advances to the Sweet Sixteen.
I don’t usually do this, but I am picking two 12 seeds this year. Wofford is no joke and although I love the 40 minutes of Hell game plan that Arkansas applies I am not impressed with their ability to score. Furthermore, I just do not see Arkansas getting past my Tarheels in the second round so this is the spot to pick an upset. I have to say that I was amused when they put former Dukie, Tommy Amaker, and the Harvard Crimson against the Heels (and the selection committee claims to not like story lines), but in no way is a victory over Harvard a replacement for losing to Duke this season. Nonetheless, Carolina will make easy work of Wofford and will advance to play Wisconsin in the Sweet Sixteen. This sets up the most intriguing game of the tournament to this point. UNC is as good as anyone in the field but they are also as bad as anyone in the field and then some. their size and athleticism could give Wisconsin trouble and if there is a spot early on where a one seed could lose, this is it. However, I have to pick against my Tarheels (with tears in my eyes) and move the Badgers along to the Elite Eight.
The bottom half of this bracket seems kind of chalky to me. Nothing here stands out as a potential upset except for maybe Ole Miss over Xavier. Beyond that, take Baylor and put them in the Sweet Sixteen over Ole Miss. VCU is maddening to play against with their Havoc style and will have a really interesting second round game against Arizona. If VCU is shooting the three well that day they could be trouble for Arizona, but in the end, I doubt that will happen and Arizona will defeat VCU and Baylor to set up a rematch of last year’s Elite Eight with Wisconsin. This year will different though. Arizona is playing their best basketball of the year and although Wisconsin is really very good I see the tables being turned and Arizona advancing to the Final Four.
If you are going to make some moves, the East is the bracket to do it in. Villanova is good and shoots the ball well but is kind of an under the radar number one seed. There has got to be a reason for that. Nonetheless, they will advance to the Sweet Sixteen with wins over Lafayette and NC State who dispatches of LSU in the first round. Northern Iowa easily moves past Wyoming in this 5 -12 matchup and will play Louisville in a very exciting second round game. This one is a little reminiscent of last year’s Wichita St. Kentucky game with the highly touted little guy and the perennial power facing off, but this year will be different. Northern Iowa is really good and Louisville has not been the same team this last month and a half as they were early on so take UNI in the upset. This is where is gets interesting. Will Northern Iowa have enough firepower to defeat the Wildcats of Villanova. If ever there was a spot to pick a huge upset, this is the place and I am going to. UNI advances to the Elite Eight in another epic battle. The bottom half of this bracket is all chalk to the second round where Providence will upset Oklahoma to advance to the Sweet Sixteen. This Michigan St Virginia game should be another fantastic game to watch if you are into a ton of defense and rebounding. Tom Izzo, seems to know how to coach this time of year but Virginia’s defense is as good as anyone’s in the country and that will be the difference here as they advance to the Sweet Sixteen and dispatch of Providence rather easily. This sets up a Northern Iowa vs Virginia Elite Eight match. Not exactly a game that wreaks of tradition but should be an interesting one. I like Virginia in this. As mentioned, their defense is the best I’ve seen and at this point in the tournament, Justin Anderson should be back in form to help the Cavaliers move on.
In the South it looks like once again Duke will have a cakewalk to the Final Four because the “we don’t set up storylines” committee wants that Duke vs. Kentucky Final so they have pitted them against what I believe is the weakest half of a bracket out there. They will face San Diego St. in the second round who dispatches of St. Johns in the first round after the St. John’s center decided it was more important to smoke a joint than play in an NCAA tournament game (he must be taking advice from Oregon wide receivers). Without him they will be no match for the Aztecs size. However, size will not be enough against Duke and they will need to score which SDSU does not do well. Put Duke in the Sweet Sixteen with ease. Stephen F. Austin makes quick work of Utah who was so much better early on in the season then takes care of Georgetown who is arguably the worst four seed this year. However, Cinderella Stepehn F. Austin’s run comes to an end against Duke who will advance to the Elite Eight. In the other half of this bracket SMU wins over UCLA who is mediocre at best and will face a very tough Iowa St. team in the second round. Larry Brown is one of the best but I just think the cyclones are too good for his bunch and move on to face Gonzaga who makes easy work of North Dakota St. (who knew they even played basketball there) and then Iowa. This Gonzaga Iowa St game should be another one of the games of the tournament and I would really like to see the Zags do something big for the first time since they were the little guy…and I think they will. Put them through to face Duke. I will begrudgingly put Duke through to the Final Four but I would not be surprised if Gonzaga wins this game. This is the best Gonzaga team that I have seen and one of these year’s has to be the one for them. Nonetheless, I’ll keep the committee’s hopes alive and set up a rematch from the regular season of Virginia vs. Duke in the Final Four.
So it’s set, Arizona vs. Kentucky and Virginia vs. Duke. If this happens this would be a tremendous Final Four. Arizona has the ability to beat Kentucky since they are athletic enough and rebound well enough and maybe they will. I mean there has to be a reason that only one undefeated team has ever won the championship before, right? Not this time though, Kentucky is just too good and will advance to face Duke in the Finals who narrowly escapes Virginia’s defensive efforts but lack of offensive firepower. So the committee will get their dream final of blue bloods and it should be a good one, but I’m not sure Duke is one of the teams that can beat Kentucky. Their depth is nonexistent and really they only have two great players whereas Kentucky has about nine. In the end, there was never a doubt. The Wildcats win another title and stake their claim as the best college basketball team ever.
March is Nation Nutrition month and with that in mind, I thought it necessary to provide my Elite Basketball Training family with some valuable information on the Basketball Nutrition Habits of Champions. As a long time advocate and practitioner of healthy, clean eating and someone who is currently working towards his nutrition certification, I can personally vouch for the positive results that proper nutrition has on your overall health and your performance on the basketball court. Food is fuel for your body and just like a car, your body needs premium fuel. Put low grade gas in your high end car and your driving experience will suffer. Make poor food choices and or don’t eat and your game play will suffer as a result. With that in mind, here the Five Nutrition Habits of Champions that will help you to stay energized during exercise, enhance recovery between workouts, and maintain a healthy body composition.
Basketball Nutrition Habits of Champions
3) Eat at Regular Intervals
4) Choose a Varied and Balanced Diet
5) Meet Your Energy Needs
Daily Basketball Nutrition Checklist
Complete this checklist daily to ensure you are achieving
_______ I ate breakfast
_______ I ate 3 balanced meals
_______ I ate 2-3 nutritious snacks
_______ I ate 2-3 pieces of fruit
_______ I ate 3-5 servings of vegetables
_______ I ate 3-4 servings of low-fat dairy products
_______ I ate a lean source of protein in each meal
_______ I ate a source of carbohydrates in meals and snacks
_______ I selected foods moderate or low in fat
_______ I drank water regularly throughout the day
_______ I drank Rehydrate during intense conditioning
_______ I refueled within 60 minutes following workouts
_______ I took a multivitamin
5 Nutrition Habits of Champions In Greater Detail
- Raises your body temperature
- Makes you work harder at lower exercise intensities
- Causes headache, dizziness, and fatigue
- Leads to muscle cramping
- Drink at least 1 cup of water every hour
TIP: Carry a water bottle around with you for a reminder
- Drink 1-2 cups of Rehydrate about 15 minutes before exercise
- Drink 1-2 cups of fluid every half hour during exercise
TIP: Select Rehydrate over water if you are a salty sweater or exercising for longer than an
- Drink 3 cups of Rehydrate after exercise
TIP : Add 2 more cups of water or Rehydrate for each pound lost during exercise
Urine color – Clear to pale yellow color and frequent need to urinate signals adequate
hydration. Infrequent, dark urine reflects your body begging you to drink.
Weight loss – Weighing yourself before and after practice allows you to estimate fluids lost in
sweat. Replace each pound with 2 cups of fluid.
1) To replace carbohydrates used for energy and build stores for the next workout
2) To provide protein for aid in muscle repair and to prevent muscle breakdown
3) To take the first step in recovery for your next workout
The critical time to refuel is within the first 30 minutes after exercise, when your body is
able to maximize absorption of carbohydrates and protein.
Water : at least 3 cups of fluid plus an additional 2 cups for each pound of weight loss
Carbohydrates : 50-100 grams
Protein : 15-25 grams
Recommended Food Combinations
- Post Workout Recovery and Rehydrate
- 2 cups of low-fat chocolate milk and a banana
- Peanut butter and jelly sandwich and 2 cups of Rehydrate
- Bagel and part-skim mozzarella string cheese
- 8 oz. of low-fat yogurt mixed with 1/2 cup granola cereal
- 2 cups of cereal with skim or 1% milk
3) EAT AT REGULAR INTERVALS
1) To maintain blood sugar levels for constant energy throughout the day
2) To minimize overwhelming hunger that leads to overeating late at night
3) To encourage protein synthesis instead of fat storage
Aim for 3-4 balanced meals daily
- Begin your day with a meal, even if it is not a traditional breakfast
- Regardless of your work or class schedule, make sure to include a lunch
– This may require packing food ahead of time
- Prepare or purchase a dinner that is about the same size as breakfast and lunch
- For weight gain, eating a fourth meal will help you to consume more calories
- Starving all day and binging at night will sabotage both weight loss and weight gain efforts
– Aim for 2-4 snacks daily
- Including a small snack in between meals will control your hunger
- Adding large snacks will help increase calories needed for weight gain
- Eating a high-carbohydrate snack pre-workout will provide quick energy
- Refueling after exercise is an essential snack for all athletes
4) CHOOSE A VARIED AND BALANCED DIET
Follow these three steps to ensure you reach nutrient recommendations.
Step 1: Eat antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables
1) Aim for 2-3 pieces of fruit per day
2) Aim for 3-5 servings of vegetables per day
– 1 serving is 1 cup raw or 1/2 cup cooked veggies
- fresh fruit, frozen fruit, canned fruit in water or juice, 100% fruit juice, dried fruit
- fresh vegetables, frozen vegetables, canned vegetables, 100% vegetable juice
Step 2: Eat energy-supplying carbohydrates
1) At least half of your calories should come from carbohydrates
2) Include a source of carbohydrates in every meal and snack
- whole grain bread, cereal, pasta, rice, oats
- starchy vegetables such as potatoes, sweet potatoes, winter squash, corn
- limit empty calories such as soda, sweet tea, candy, and sugary desserts
Step 3: Eat muscle-building, lean protein sources
1) Up to 1/4 of your calories may come from protein
2) Include a source of lean protein in every meal
- chicken breast, sirloin steak, lean ground beef, fish, egg whites, beans
- low-fat dairy products such as skim milk, low-fat yogurt, and 2% cheese
5) MEET YOUR ENERGY NEEDS
Match your food intake to your body composition goals.
- Increase total calories to gain lean muscle mass
- Decrease total calories to shed excess body fat
- Maintain total calories to avoid weight gain or loss
Sample Meal Plans Focused on Basketball Nutrition
Six sample meal plans have been provided at varying energy levels to guide your food choices.
If no beverage is listed with food items, select water, crystal light, or unsweetened iced tea.
If you fail to reach all of your vitamin and mineral requirements on a daily
basis, it is also recommended that you take a general multivitamin.
2000 CALORIE DIET
Breakfast: 2 cups of Cheerios with 1 cup of skim milk
1 medium banana
Morning Snack: 12 baby carrots
Lunch: 3 slices of turkey breast on 2 slices of whole wheat bread with lettuce, tomato, 1slice of Swiss cheese
and 1 Tbsp of mayonnaise
1 medium apple
Afternoon Snack: Peanut butter granola bar
Dinner: Salad containing 1 cup spinach, 3 oz. grilled chicken breast, 1/2 cup chickpeas, 1/2 cup canned
mandarin oranges, mushroom, and onion topped with 1/2 oz. dried walnuts and 1 Tbsp red wine vinaigrette
1 cup skim milk
Evening Snack: 6 oz. low-fat yogurt
During Practice: Approximately 3 cups of Rehydrate
2500 CALORIE DIET
Breakfast: 2 packets instant oatmeal mixed with 1/2 cup skim milk and 1 cup strawberries
Morning Snack: 1/4 cup of dry roasted almonds
Lunch: Tuna salad sandwich on 2 slices rye bread made with 3 oz. tuna, 2 tsp mayonnaise, celery, lettuce, and
topped with tomato slices
1 medium pear
16 wheat thin crackers dipped in 1 Tbsp hummus
Afternoon Snack: 1/4 cup of granola cereal mixed in 6 oz. low-fat yogurt
Dinner: 3 oz. grilled or roasted chicken breast
1 large baked sweet potato topped with 2 tsp brown sugar and 1 Tbsp margarine
1 whole wheat dinner roll
2 cups salad with mixed greens, cucumber, tomato, sunflower seeds, and 1 Tbsp red wine vinaigrette dressing
Evening Snack: 3 cups of reduced-fat popcorn
2 pieces part-skim mozzarella string cheese
During Practice: Approximately 4 cups of Rehydrate
3000 CALORIE DIET
Breakfast: 4 frozen multigrain waffles topped with 1/2 cup of blueberries, 1 Tbsp of margarine, and 2 Tbsp of
Morning Snack: 1 medium banana covered with 2 Tbsp natural peanut butter
Lunch: 6” steak sub on wheat bread with 3 oz. grilled sirloin, 1 slice part-skim mozzarella cheese, onion, and
1 cup skim milk
Afternoon Snack: 8 triscuit crackers dipped in 3 Tbsp of hummus
Dinner: 1-1/2 cups whole wheat pasta with marinara sauce containing grilled chicken breast, tomatoes, and
1 whole wheat dinner roll with 1 tsp margarine spread
1 cup skim milk
Evening Snack: 1 Oats ‘N Honey granola bar
During Practice: Approximately 4 cups of Rehydrate
3500 CALORIE DIET
Breakfast: Egg sandwich with 1 scrambled egg and 1 slice of 2% cheddar cheese on a whole wheat English
1 cup of 1% milk
1 grapefruit with 1 Tbsp sugar
Morning Snack: 1 cup of grapes
6 oz. of low-fat yogurt with 1/4 cup granola cereal
Lunch: Chicken Caesar pita with 1/2 grilled chicken breast, romaine lettuce, tomato, cucumber,
2 Tbsp Caesar salad dressing, and 1 Tbsp Parmesan cheese
1 medium orange
1/2 cup goldfish crackers
Afternoon Snack: 1 cup applesauce
1/4 cup dry roasted almonds
Dinner: Stir-fry with 5 oz. sirloin steak, 1 cup brown rice, and sauteed green pepper, onion, sugar snap peas,
Evening Snack: 1 large baked tortilla dipped in 1 cup thick-and-chunky salsa
1 cup of 1% milk
During Practice: Approximately 5 cups of Rehydrate
4000 CALORIE DIET.
Breakfast: 1 cup of granola cereal mixed with 1 cup of strawberries and 1 cup of 2% milk
1 cup of 100% orange juice
Morning Snack: Peanut butter and jelly sandwich on 2 slices of whole wheat bread
Lunch: 1 baked chicken breast with 2 cups of rice
1/2 cup of peas and 1/2 cup of corn
1 cup of 2% milk
Afternoon Snack: 12 baby carrots dipped in low-fat ranch dressing
1 small bowl of pretzels
Dinner: 3 beef soft tacos topped with shredded cheese, tomatoes, onion, lettuce, and thick and chunky salsa
Evening Snack: 1 medium apple dipped in 6 oz. of low-fat yogurt
During Practice: Approximately 6 cups of Rehydrate
5000 CALORIE DIET
Breakfast: 3 large scrambled eggs
2 slices whole wheat toast topped with 2 tsp margarine and 2 Tbsp jelly
1 cup of 100% apple juice
Morning Snack: 1 medium orange
1 whole wheat bagel topped with 2 Tbsp of natural peanut butter
Lunch: 1 chicken breast with 1 cup of macaroni and cheese
1 cup mixed vegetables
1 cup of 100% grape juice
Afternoon Snack: 1 muscle milk
1 medium apple
Dinner: 6 oz. sirloin steak
2 cups black beans and rice
2 cups mixed salad greens and vegetables with Italian dressing
1 cup of 100% orange juice
Evening Snack: 2 cups of 2% chocolate milk
1/2 cup dry roasted almonds
During Practice: Approximately 6 cups of Rehydrate
When planning your own meals for home or eating out, think about dividing
your plate into thirds: cover 1/3 with fruits or vegetables, 1/3 with highfiber
starches, and 1/3 with lean protein.
The Perfect Plate:
fruits & veggies
We hope we have shared a solid resource her for your basketball nutrition needs and hope you will add your comments and questions below. We have included some links to our Advocare store page to introduce you to the products we use and that are NCAA approved for rehydration and some other needs. We do get paid an affiliate commission on some of those products should you choose to purchase one.
Do you know a basketball player with ambitious goals? Introduce them to this important piece of the basketball development puzzle by sharing this article with them or on social media. To download a pdf version of the basketball nutrition checklist go to: Basketball Nutrition Checklist Download.
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