Pain is your greatest teacher, but only if you allow it. 

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Basketball, like life, has a lot of ups and downs. How many ups and downs are determined by a lot of things, but learning from the downs is a critical part of your growth and success as a player.

Think about the classic example of a 2-year-old touching a hot stove. It burns, they scream, and probably won’t do it again. That pain is what teaches us to survive in a dangerous world, so let’s utilize that to a smoother path to success in the game of basketball.

How about this classic example. A player on a team doesn’t play as much as they would like. The player blames the coach, the parent blames the coach, and the grandparents are even blaming the coach. What if instead of making excuses we look at it like the toddler touching the stove and take it as a learning experience. What is it that I’m doing or not doing that is restricting my playing time? By doing this you can make the appropriate changes to then earn playing time. What if you don’t make those personal changes, but you instead change teams and continue those bad habits with the new coach? You guessed it, same results.

Everyone knows the story about Michael Jordan getting cut from the Varsity team and that’s what motivated him to work hard to become what he is today. Well, it’s not 100% true. He didn’t really get cut from the Varsity, he just didn’t make the Varsity and played JV instead… averaged 30 pts/game too by the way. What if that story was different, what if Jordan sulked about not making the Varsity and blamed the coach. Or what if he transferred instead like a lot of players do today.

Here’s another thought, what if a shot doesn’t go in? What if most of your shots don’t go in? Well, that should be immediate feedback telling you that you’re doing something wrong. Just a little bit of pain like touching the hot stove. How about practice more? How about work with a shooting coach? How about stop being stubborn and listen to your shooting coach???

Every time you make an excuse or blame others, you are missing out on this opportunity to improve. If you look at every detail of your game (and life) like this you will make progress at a pace astronomically faster than those around you. When others around you begin making excuses, look at that as an opportunity to pass them and don’t fall into the trap of joining them in the excuse game.

Feel the pain. Embrace the pain. Use the pain. Remember, it will always be your greatest teacher, but only if you allow it.

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