• BJ Mumford, B.S.S

How to revive your player's motivation to practice on their own!

John hated practice. It was boring. He hated standing in line waiting to do a drill. He hated running scripted plays over and over again instead of playing scrimmages. He especially hated doing stationary dribbling.

But John LOVED basketball, so he did what he had to do to play on a team. Outside of team practice, John would occasionally shoot hoops in his driveway, or do stationary dribbling drills in his garage, but he never felt like he had a purpose for any of that.

He was just following the advice he was given by coaches and parents that knew he loved to play and dreamed of competing in high school. They all agreed this type of driveway practice was the way to achieve his dream, and if he didn’t like it that meant he didn’t really want to succeed badly enough.

What was missing for John to feel motivated?

Watch our video summary on this topic here:

Motivation Killer #1:

No Situational Context

Basketball is like writing. Once you know the ABC’s and the rules for forming words, it is time to start building sentences! Unfortunately for players, most basketball practices involve only 2 parts:

1) Dutifully writing words like CAT over and over again, and

2) Copying entire paragraphs that have been written by the teacher

And if they are not performing on tests, they get homework to do more of the same.

What players want and NEED to do to succeed is to learn new words, figure out how they fit together in sentences, and create completely new paragraphs that have never been written.

If your player is doing only stationary dribbling drills and running scripted plays designed by the coach, I can’t say that they will never learn to play basketball, only that they will be slowed to the point that they may quit before they succeed.

To improve any player’s motivation overnight - they need to know the situational context in which a skill will be used, then practice by first attempting it in that game situation to experience the need for it (likely by failing if this is a new/ weak skill for them).

I guarantee they will be practicing that skill on their own tomorrow!

Motivation Killer #2:

No Context For Their Basketball Journey

Imagine you are driving through the cornfields of the midwest on a road trip. You have no map, no gps, and no way to see how far you have come or how close you are to your destination.

How would you feel about continuing to drive straight ahead?

Now imagine you came across a rest stop with a big sign that said YOU ARE HERE >>> pointing to a map of the state you are in, the road you are on, and a scale of distance that you can use to estimate the driving time to your final destination. Sweet relief! Now would you continue driving? Maybe even a bit faster to try and beat your new estimated arrival time?

Players in the 10-14 year-old age range often have this same sense of feeling lost without a reference point for either past progress or the realistic distance to their future aspirations.

They have played rec basketball, and probably played in travel/ AAU tournaments and won trophies. They know they have gotten better, but are not sure by how much. They want to play high school basketball, but that seems a long way off. They have no way to measure where they are on their journey, how far their destination actually is, or how much time and effort it will take to get there.

They need someone to tell them YOU ARE HERE>>>

They need an objective way to evaluate their current skill set, define their aspirations for basketball, and create a roadmap to get from A to B, and a priority list of next steps to get there.

Most players and parents attempt to overcome this problem by either:

A) Doing more of the same - Playing more games, attending more practices, skills & drills sessions, camps, and clinics in the hope that their player will reach their dreams by sheer volume of activity


B) Trying out for Elite travel/ AAU teams until they make it on one, because if they are called elite and surrounded by elite players, they are elite, right?

To improve their motivation to practice, every player needs an objective evaluation by someone other than a team coach or parent who both have their biases. Someone who knows basketball, and can properly place a player in their own map based on their skill set and aspirations in 3 ways:

  1. Identify aspirations for highest level of play (HS, College, NBA)

  2. Evaluate player skill set based on film and on-court evaluation to identify current ability

  3. Map out the road from current ability to next achievable step on the player’s journey to their highest aspirations

That is what we do with our 360 Player Assessment as part of our Play Practice Formula.

If your player’s motivation is dying, give us a call to see if we can bring it back to life!

Book a consultation call

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