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It’s What You Do, Not Who You’re With – Luke Meier‏

 

Last night I read a blog post from Jay Hernandez, player development coach for the Orlando Magic, regarding a topic that has been on my mind for some time.

Jay was running a high school girls camp and on the first night, one of the players left the camp because the other players weren’t “on her level.” The next day, Wally Szczerbiak – Jay’s first NBA client, a top 10 draft pick and an NBA All-Star at the time – called about getting a workout in. Jay told him he was running the camp and Wally asked if they would be working on a few specific moves. Jay said they would, but reiterated that it was a high school girl’s camp. Wally’s response was simply, “I don’t care.” Hours later he was there working and waiting his turn in line with the high school girls. (Read the full post here)

I have experienced similar situations:

  • Marcus Landry (University of Wisconsin, All Big Ten, NBA, D-League, Overseas Professional) – I spent three summers working Marcus out. Some of our sessions were scheduled last minute and had to fit into commitments I already had. There were multiple occasions where he was paired up with middle school and high school players in workouts. It literally made no difference to him…it was all about him getting the work in.
  • Christian Charles (Villanova, Overseas Professional) – I was running team training with his former high school and he happened to be in the gym. He asked to join and I obviously said yes. Not only did he work his tail off – he asked several questions and wasn’t afraid to make mistakes or try new things. Just like Marcus, he was 100% focused on taking advantage of an opportunity to get better.
  • Jerry Smith (University of Louisville, D-League, NBA, Overseas Pro) and Myles McKay (Overseas Pro) – There were countless times where Mike and I worked out Jerry and Myles with high school players and occasionally middle school players.

I don’t mention the levels that these guys have played at to make myself sound important.  I do it to show that these players are elite, they’ve played or are playing at levels that only a tiny fraction (about 1%) of players ever reach, and their sole focus is improvement.

After working in the player development field for nearly a decade, it’s commonplace to see players or parents who are more concerned with the other players in their workout groups than the actual workout itself. They get caught up in whom they’re working with rather than what they’re working on. I’ve seen high school players all but stop trying during workouts because they’re in groups with younger players. I’ve experienced several instances where parents have told me that they only wanted their child to work with better players who would challenge them. This thought process is completely wrong.  Here’s why:

  • In a perfect world you work with players of similar age and ability. There are going to be times when this isn’t possible and if you only work when conditions are perfect, you probably won’t be working very often.
  • Your child should only work with players better than them? Did you ever think what the better players and their parents want? It’s not to work with players who aren’t as good. And, honestly, the better players usually don’t really care who they’re with.  They care about getting better.
  • As a player, your focus should be 100% on developing your skill level and your game. How hard you work, your attention to detail, or the quality of your workout should not vary depending on the other players in the gym.

Get in the gym, work, get better, and focus on your own game.