Being a true athlete is by no means an easy job. Throughout the course of the season you will be pushed and trained hard to become the best that you are capable of becoming. To undergo such an athletic endeavor, you must prepare yourself physically, mentally, and spiritually. Too many players participate in athletics with a complacent attitude and are satisfied with mediocrity. They actually don't want to work to be a champion. This type of player will usually quit when practices get too tough, or fold in an important ball game because they choose not to produce that extra ounce of sweat which may make the difference in a win or loss. Being an athlete does not imply merely wearing the uniform and being just a member of the squad. You should not wish to participate in sports, you should wish to become successful in sports. There are many important phases to think about if you want to be a champion, not only in basketball but in life as well.
Are you coachable?
Do you have a burning desire to learn? Can you take constructive criticism or are you a "know it all"? Will you always do your level best to improve? Do you want to improve?
Are you competitive?
Are you possessed with the spirit of competition, which fires an intense desire to achieve? Do you want to win, never taking "no" for an answer when there is a job to be done, a rebound to be grabbed, a shot to be stopped, or a basket to be made? Does it bother you to give less than your best effort?
Are you willing to practice?
Not just reporting and putting in the necessary time, but working every day with the same speed and determination you use during a game? Great athletes give their best effort at all times. Too often the lessons that could be learned from the performance of a truly great athlete are overlooked. Too much attention to final records ignores the means by which these records were achieved. Too little is written or told of the years of grueling practice, of the tremendous will to succeed, or of the diligent concentration of fundamentals that lead to excellence.
Are you willing to make sacrifices?
Are you willing to train or are you wasting your time in athletics? Superior conditioning does not just happen nor is acquired quickly. It is a result of a well planned and executed program of exercise, rest and diet. Training is exacting and the responsibility is heavy. It includes personal denials but the rewards are great. The best way to remain in great shape is never to get out of it. "A second rate person can never make a first-class ball player." It is going to be up to you to see that your maximum physical condition is achieved and maintained. Anything less is a violation of trust.
Can you play through adversity?
Do you have the ability to bounce back? Never let bad plays or calls ruin your game? No matter how many times you get knock down, the only time that matters is the time you do not get back up. When you give it your best effort you may run out of time on the clock, but you will never lose a game.
Do you have self-control?
As an athlete you must realize that you are in the public spotlight at all times. Your conduct, what you say and do, makes news. This imposes a great need for self-control. It is a cinch to find someone to lead you down the wrong path in life. It takes determination to resist the temptations that exist. Just as one works for years to become a top athlete, one should work to develop an image of a person, a pattern of conduct, and standards by which one is known and respected. Do not risk destroying a whole career because of an off the court mistake.
Do you prepare every day to meet the best?
Do you have an ardent desire to improve? Are you willing to practice the things you cannot do more than the things you can do well? Are you willing to put in extra time necessary to perfect a skill or fundamental? Too many players spend their time doing what they already do well, and therefore, never improve.
Are you willing to study?
Basketball was never meant to take the place of studies and the desire to learn. You are in school for an education. Keep that foremost in your thoughts, but place basketball second. Earn the respect of your teachers as well as your coach. If you can't "pass" you can't play. That is true "on" and "off" the court.