As the AAU/Club Spring and Summer Season kicks off, there's a lot of excitement and buzz about the level of young talent in the state of Oregon and SW Washington. Our FAST program continues to grow and evolve. We have a lot of new faces on both the boys and girls side along with a strong foundation of returning players. People ask, what is FAST's philosophy? At FAST we place our focus and emphasis on fundamentals and developing the total athlete. As our program continues to grow, the competition gets more fierce. The players who have bought in and committed to the skill clinics are making remarkable progress. As a program, we will not throw a bunch of teams together and play a ton of tournaments and call ourselves an elite program. The skill development and focus on fundamentals is especially missing on the girls side. Last year I watched an elite level tournament and saw a lot of bad basketball in between some amazing and competitive games. The most glaring thing was the lack of fundamentals, creativity, and basketball IQ. The "old school" in me cringes when I see kids who don't have the basics down and then look at their travel schedule in the programs and see how many games they will be playing, it's ridiculous. How can you possibly be okay with playing in so many high level tournaments and travel nationally if you don't have the skills to compete and dominate locally? Whatever dream some of these coaches are selling, it's a good one.
To truly be elite, it's going to take a lot of work. Average is easy... great is really hard. It takes commitment, dedication, and focus. And it's not playing in a bunch of games at a young age. The skill development takes consistency and passion to conquer your every weakness. A good friend Henry Barrera said to me, "too much, too fast, won't last". This resonates with me so much because in our microwave society, everyone wants success yesterday. This is not real life. The people who I admire who are the most successful, have the strongest work ethic, unquenchable passion, incredible focus, and consistently work on their craft. This might sound funny but it's a choice to be average in your fundamentals... it's actually really easy. Don't practice your ball handling everyday and you will be a great average ball handler. Being an unstoppable ball handler takes countless repetitions in the gym. Stationary ball handling, open court ball handling, one on one ball handling, etc. The mind and the muscles will not work together to execute a move in a game situation if you don't put in the time and work beforehand.
As a program we require a minimum of two days a week of skill clinics. The players we see who make the progress the fastest are taking those two days of skill clinic work and working the other 4-5 days on their own so that the next time they come into the gym, they are ready to soak in the next progression of a move or skill we are working on. Working on your fundamentals is not glamorous but when you start to see progress, it becomes addictive. I was at the #StrongerTeamHuddle conference last weekend and Alan Stein said in reference to players who complain about working out... "It's not mandatory but neither is playing time". AMEN!!
If you truly want to be elite, evaluate your goals and how you are going to execute your process to achieve them. Remember, average is easy... being great is strategic, focused, and consistent practice.