I am heading down to Charlotte, NC this week to work the prestigious Jordan Brand All-American Classic – an event that selects the nation’s top boy’s high school basketball players to represent the greatest player to ever lace up sneakers – Michael Jordan. This event is an honor and privilege to be involved with.
A special thanks to the Jordan Brand, Nike Basketball, and Position Sports for their outstanding work in putting on this first class event.
Observing elite level players provides me with an invaluable learning experience. Here are some of the traits that make them special:
Elite players love to play basketball. It’s not a hobby or an activity – it is their passion. They would rather play basketball than do anything else. When they aren’t playing basketball they are watching it on TV or playing it on PS2!
Do you have the same love for the game?
Elite players are competitive and hate losing. They hate losing more than they like winning! Whether they are playing on ESPN or a game of H-O-R-S-E in their backyard, they always compete as hard as they can. They never concede. They use this competitiveness in their workouts and practices. They try to ‘win’ every drill.
Does winning matter that much to you?
Elite players don’t rely solely on their natural born talents (size & athleticism). They work hard to maximize their fundamentals and understanding of the game. They spend countless hours on their strength & conditioning and working on their skills and basketball IQ.
Do you work on improving every aspect of your game?
Elite players enjoy working hard. It’s part of their identity. They don’t coast and they don’t look for shortcuts. They get great satisfaction in giving their best effort in everything they do. Working as hard as possible is non-negotiable.
Do you enjoy putting in hard work?
Elite players consistently leave their comfort zone during practice and workouts. They know that the only way they will get better is to attempt things they can’t currently do. They push themselves to grow and develop.
Do you know how to be comfortable being uncomfortable?
Elite players have the intangibles that don’t show up in the box score. They have a positive attitude, they are enthusiastic, and they are great teammates. They make those around them better. They are energy givers, not energy takers. Talent and ability aside, they are the type of player coaches want to coach and players want as teammates.
Do you make everyone around you better?
I would be lying if I told you that every ‘elite’ high school player possessed these qualities. They don’t. Some are lazy. A few are selfish. But those are the players that don’t make it (or at least don’t live up to their potential).
Players like Kevin Durant, Maya Moore, Chris Paul, Skylar Diggins, and Harrison Barnes are examples of elite players who epitomize these qualities – they combine a passion for the game, natural talent, solid fundamentals, an unparalleled work ethic & competitiveness, and a fantastic attitude.
Read Alan's entire blog on this subject (complete with video):