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Never too big for the basics

Celia Collymore

Never too big for the basics

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The minute you get away from fundamentals – whether it’s proper technique, work ethic or mental preparation – the bottom can fall out of your game, your schoolwork, your job, whatever you’re doing – Michael Jordan
As a former national basketball champion, United States Northeast-10 regional champion and Elite-8 participant, I know full well how fundamentals determine your ability to not only perform at your best against the best with your team, but also the importance of fundamentals in winning games when everything is on the line.
During my formative years, I constantly heard from coach Cosmo Edwards, “It’s all about the fundamentals.”
Today, this is the same advice I continue to share when coaching clients or mentoring individuals and keep at the forefront as I grow and sustain my business.
Even though my role has changed, the journey is never over. I am still very grateful for the opportunities basketball has afforded me and how the experiences have shaped my life.
I have lived and breathed in that world of sweat, blood and tears and can appreciate the kind of hard work that must be put into practice to prove you deserve to be at the top.
Your talent will fail you if you’re not skilled – Will Smith
Understanding and applying the fundamentals in any sport is very important in maintaining consistency. It is the foundation of sustaining good habits.
These invaluable skills develop well-rounded and complete players, elevating their performance to the next level, from novice to amateur to professional.
Players must be taught the correct fundamentals starting early in their development. Every coach should acclimate themselves and spend most of their time teaching players the fundamentals of the game, impress on them the proper attitude and work ethic needed to be successful, and not worry too much about the wins or loses. These are secondary.
Teamwork, commitment, work ethic and sportsmanship are some of the things that help young people achieve success on and off the court/field/pool.
The fancy skills, no look passes, and backflip goals are all very cool. However, it is imperative that we emphasize to our youth that learning the basic principles in their respective sport is more important than these invigorating moments.
Fundamentals are more important than any strategy a coach can invoke. Without proper fundamentals players will be unlikely to execute the strategy properly. Once you have solid fundamentals you can use your personality to showcase a little flair and versatility in your sport.
For purposes of explaining why some key fundamentals are necessary, I will use basketball as a reference point.
• History and sports terminology: What do you know about your sport? Learn the history of basketball, any interesting facts and language of the game. You will respect the game and those who came before you.
• Roles: Are you a point guard, perimeter player, post player? Some responsibilities are similar but each role has different expectations and movements. Know your role and perform at your best.
• Techniques: How good are you with ball handling, dribbling, shooting, scoring, rebounding, passing, offence, defence, cutting, faking, setting up screens and so on? Master them.
• Skills: Do you have competencies such as leadership, listening, communication, time management, team work, discipline, training, intelligence and perseverance? Acquire them.
• Psyche: Can you handle, stress, fatigue, time constraints and disappointments? You must have a strong mindset (mental, spiritual, emotional, physical, financial) to deal with the pressures that come with the sport and day-to-day living. Be fully aware of yourself and your surroundings.
• Academics: Got time management? Got focus? You must be able to balance your time and your energies in order to complete school work and get good grades. Things happen when you least expect, so do not put off work. Remember, you’re not going to be an athlete all your life, so make sure you have a solid education to fall back on.
• Nutrition: Good daily nutrition is important so you can perform at your best – high lean protein foods, complex carbohydrates, plenty of water, fruit, vegetables, whole grains and so on. It’s always good to include supplements as part of your diet to ensure that you get those vitamins and minerals that might have been lost in some of the foods you eat.
• Strengthening drills & weight management: To play bigger and better, you must spend time in the gym to get stronger. Strengthening your muscles increases athletic ability and power and improves coordination.
Be sure to incorporate conditioning and agility drills in your exercise routines. Incorporate stretching before and after activities for more flexibility and to help decrease your risk of getting injured.
None of this is easy, but if you are disciplined, determined and dedicated to your success you will succeed.
Success is determined by the goals (inputs) you set for yourself and the tasks you create to accomplish them (outputs).
You must continuously fight for what you believe in and never give up no matter the obstacles. Hard work pays off. Dream big!
• Celia Collymore is founder/project manager of Bajan Fusion, a healthy lifestyle event management service.