This is a guest post by Blake, a fitness, and sports enthusiast. One place you can find him is, where he mostly talks about compression wear.

Getting better at most things in basketball requires going through processes. It takes countless hours of shooting the ball to incrementally improve at jump shots and free throws. Ball handling, passing and dribbling all require constant effort to get better, as well. But, for some other aspects of the game, getting better can be as simple as flipping a switch. Each of the following suggestions requires only the decision to accept them as truth and to incorporate them, and they are the hallmarks of some of the game’s greats.

Get Physical

One of the most effective changes a player can make, and one that takes no training or practice, is to decide to play a more physical brand of ball, especially on the defensive side. Increased physicality will improve any player’s presence on the court, and lead to intangibles like disrupting offenses and drawing coverage.

Of course, getting more physical necessitates an athletic build and stamina. Committing to an offseason exercise regimen will increase the likelihood that a player’s increased physicality will be effective. And running for longer and longer distances will ensure the player has gas in the tank when the seconds are ticking off the clock.

One small change the player can do is wear compression shorts during practice and in games. Compression garments increase the flow of blood through the muscles, and compression shorts can keep oxygen flowing to the legs when demand increases. Late in the game, every drop of fuel counts.

Improve Mentality

You see it often. A team will be down, with momentum going the other way, and players will simply quit. Deciding never to quit, no matter how much time is left on the clock or what the score may be, is a simple thing with lasting consequences. It is not just a point of pride; positivity wins games

There is a reason why positive thinking ranks so highly on this list of mental skills from the Ohio Center for Sports Psychology: it works. It is a foundation on which we build other mental skills, such as concentration. Positivity is infectious.

Mastering Fundamentals

Deciding to dedicate some spare time to work on the fundamentals is free and easy. They say it takes 10,000 hours of practice to master a skill, so every ten minutes spent dribbling and shooting adds up. Most players go through a period in their development where they think they have it all figured out. But, there is a difference between knowing something and having it mastered.

The fundamentals are a huge aspect of the game. To make improving them a more manageable task, have the player commit to mastering the fundamentals in small increments. Full-team practices are great, but players improve faster and in bigger leaps when they also practice on their own. Anytime a player becomes bored is a great time to work on crossovers and free throws. If there is a basketball and a hoop around, slip in some extra practice whenever possible.

Become a Spark Plug

Young people are bundles of energy, and that should translate to the court. Think of the extra offensive rebounds and blocked shots if there were five little tornadoes on the court. The decision to stay ever busy in games and practices is an easy one to make. It will work for the best player and the worst player on the team alike.

To get them going, teach players to get active on defense. The best players seem to always be the lead or follow up player on defense during fast breaks. They harass the shooter, taking away easy layups and keeping points off the board. When you go after every ball, you look like a player, and sometimes you get there.

Become Selfless

It is human nature to focus on the self, and for a truly gifted basketball player, it can be lucrative. Players who score a lot of points get their names in the paper, and some get huge contracts. But for most teams and players, a selfish play is a recipe for failure. When players take the simple step to forget themselves and focus on the team, success follows.

The selfless player is the one who does all the little things that coaches notice, and they help teams win. These are the players who always pass the ball to the open player. They take on decoy roles like receivers running routes, and they give up their bodies on picks when needed. In just one moment, a player can decide to be the firecracker on the court and instantly become a more valuable teammate. After all, you can’t get a triple double with just points, but you can do it without them.

The Take-Away

There is a disease infecting youth sports, and it is as prevalent in basketball as in the other major sports: selfishness. The issue for basketball is that supremely talented players are often selfish on the court, and they get more so the higher the level of play and the bigger the game or situation becomes. Kids see these players, and they emulate their attitudes. It’s a virus.

Most good players grow out of this self-centered play with experience, and they learn to dedicate themselves by the time they get to high school. Some never do. But weak players can get good, and good players great, when they put the welfare of the team above their wants. Convincing them of the value of selfless play is a tough task, but once they buy into it, success can literally come overnight.

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