Basketball on the Edge – How Basketball Can Lead to a Lifetime of Success

As a youth basketball parent one of your goals should be to use the game to teach your young player valuable life lessons that will prepare them for success down the road. Being part of a team can help prepare your child for situations they may encounter as adults living and working in the world outside of sports. What do kids learn from the practice sessions, the games, the tournaments, the mental and physical preparation, and all the time they’ve put in? Hopefully, much more than just how to play the game.

Here are 10 lessons that can be learned from basketball and applied to life in the real world.

1. Be a leader.

All teams are more successful when they have good leaders. This starts with the coach of course, but teams need players to be leaders too. The best teams that I played on or coached had multiple players serving as leaders. These leaders held themselves to a high standard of performance and also held their teammates accountable as well. Basketball can help your young player develop the ability to lead others in a positive way. It takes courage and self-discipline to be a leader on a team. It is not always easy to hold peers accountable, but good leaders bring out the best in their teammates.

At a job or in business positive leadership is a skill that any employer or entrepreneur values. The more leaders a business has the better off that business will be. Leaders become valued employees or are able to start their own businesses and lead a team of employees. Leadership is a skill that can be developed through basketball and put to use in the business world later in life.

2. Learn to persevere.

Success in sports and in life doesn’t come easy. You don’t get to be a great player without facing some adversity and pushing through it. As I have written before, grit is a key component to long term success and making your dreams a reality.

Your young player may face many obstacles on their path to success in the game of basketball. Learning to deal with defeat and discouragement and push through them is a skill that will serve your child well in their future. They may get turned down for a job or fail in their first attempt at starting a business, but they’ll know they can keep pushing and eventually break through and reach their goals.

3. Prepare for success.

In basketball, if you or your team do not prepare, chances are you will lose. Winning teams and successful players prepare with hours of practice, conditioning, and strategizing. Preparing properly builds confidence that we are ready for the challenge ahead of us. Winning teams know their competition as a result of their preparation, giving them an advantage.

Are you prepared for your big meeting or are you going to “wing it”? Did you prepare for the job interview or go in blind? Did you research the market before you opened for business? Basketball teaches players and teams to be prepared in order to achieve success. Failure to prepare is preparing to fail!

4. Cooperate for the good of the team.

We’ve all played on a team with people we liked and people we didn’t like. In order to find success, teammates must figure out a way to cooperate to get the job done and win games. The same is true in the real world. Your young player may grow up and have to deal with a difficult co-worker or boss. Chances are they’ll be able to draw on experiences with difficult teammates or coaches and how they overcame the differences to create a winning outcome. That experience is invaluable. The team must come first.

Here is a sign that hangs on many locker room doors.

“If you are not prepared to put the team first, turn around.”

5. Know your role.

Good teams have players with defined roles. The players know what is expected of them and why. Businesses operate in the same way. When everyone knows and accepts their role the team is successful. Basketball teaches young players to understand their role and then perform and achieve what is expected. Great businesses will have the same expectations of their employees. Winning teams are those where players do what is expected of them and execute the game plan. This holds true in sports and in life.

6. Set goals.

Goals are a road map to where you want to go. In a team sport like basketball your young player will set both individual and team goals. Then, they’ll figure out a plan to reach those goals as an individual player and as part of the team. Throughout your career as an adult your child will have individual goals and most likely also work as part of a team. People with a goal and a plan are much more likely to be successful. Floating aimlessly with no purpose is sure-fire way to lose ground to competitors with well-defined goals.

7. Work hard.

There is no substitute for hard work. Basketball requires a young player to put many hours into the game in order to be successful. You can’t just walk onto the court and expect to beat someone who has put more time into the game than you. Business owners and employees must be prepared to outwork their competition too! No matter what vocation your child chooses later in life, the hard work and commitment they learned through basketball will serve them well.

8. Strategize.

Coaches, teams, and players must learn to strategize in order to win games. The higher the level of basketball the more strategic the game becomes. Winning players have a strategy to beat their defender and score. Winning teams have a strategy that they employ over the course of the season and then adjust based on the opponent or the circumstances.

The ability to strategize, see the big picture, and then attack the details are skills that athletes develop through their participation in basketball or other team sports. There is no more valuable skill in the real world than the ability to strategize and create a vision for yourself, your company, or your employer. Anybody can take orders, those that create the strategies are the people who create real value in their careers.

9. Be versatile.

Players that can play multiple positions and have a wide skill set are much more valuable than the one dimensional player. This type of player has more opportunities to earn playing time or fill different roles. They are constantly working to add new parts to their game, knowing it will make them more difficult to defend. The coach has a hard time keeping them off the floor. They earn their minutes by always evolving and getting better.

The same is true in life. The more skills you have, the more knowledgeable you are, the more indispensable you become. Long term success is built on the ability to keep growing, developing, and learning.

10. Show respect.

As a young basketball player your child will learn to respect teammates and coaches, even those they disagree with. It is impossible to be successful if you can’t be a good teammate or aren’t coachable. Winning teams create a culture where everyone buys in to the plan even though they may not completely agree. There may be times where your young player will have an opportunity to discuss with coaches or teammates why they disagree with their opinions. Learning to do this respectfully goes a long way toward getting your young player’s voice heard.

This is an essential skill for your young player’s future. Disagreements occur in all walks of life. Negotiating for what they want in a respectful manner you’re your young player apart from those who haven’t learned to be diplomatic.

One final thought that I have heard from numerous sources and have applied to my own life.

“Use Basketball to enhance your life and the lives of others, don’t let basketball use you.”

Teach your young player to love the game and it will love them back!

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