With final exams coming to a close, it’s time for our players to act like professionals. No, I’m not talking about Reggie Bush type “professional” student-athletes, I’m talking about our players putting forth the daily effort and focus of a professional athlete. From taking care of their bodies to putting in extra work in the gym, weight room and with coaches watching film, our players need to narrow their focus and improve every day and in every way.
No classes? Practice isn’t till 2pm? Let’s go out!! Let’s stay up till 2am on the computer. Who wants to come over and play video games all day? Those are a few mindsets to have. Those are also the mindsets of individuals not willing to pay the price to get better. As Coach Pearl said at practice the other day, he wants our players putting in so much time with his assistants, strength coach and nutritionist that they come to him and say “man, so and so is just living here. He’s working his butt off.”
The body and mind are an athlete’s biggest tools. A nutritional diet and enough rest helps athletes reach their peak performance level and recover from stress and tension caused by intense practices and games. Therefore, it is very important that our players don’t just rely on their favorite fast food spots over break. Instead, it is our hope that with the combination of our team nutritionist’s teachings and the training table meals we have organized, our players will fuel their bodies to perform at their highest level.
Once the guys get the appropriate rest and nutrition, and because I know it’s a long season so guys can’t be in the gym ALL day, we hope our guys will spend more time with our coaches watching film. Whether it’s studying themselves, our team, future opponents or successful NBA players we don’t really care because it’s all good. Watching film is another learning tool. It helps our players understand the subtleties and nuances of the game so that they can handle crucial situations during important games, know strength and weaknesses of our opponents and see how they can improve and minimize their mistakes. Remember, we are all about getting better every day and in every way.
But now that we are off to a 6-0 start and moving up in the national rankings does that change? Are we content being a starter or being in the rotation? Have we decided “I’m only a freshman, sophomore, or junior and I’ll play a lot next year so I’m not going to put extra work in before or after practice?” Those that love the game have a passion to work at it. No matter your job or hobby everybody wants to be successful. However, as we all know, you are only going to get out of something what you put into it. You want to play? You want to be a champion? You want to get drafted? You want to be the best? WORK AT IT! If you’re the hardest working guy on the team, wake up knowing that someone on an SEC team or that we might face in the NCAA tournament is working harder. Outwork them. If you aren’t the hardest working guy on the team, take baby steps forward. Just try to work harder than you did yesterday. Instead of getting 25 free throws and 100 shots up before practice get 50 and 125. If it’s tough and you don’t like it, keep pushing through it because at the end of the day it’s what’s best for you.
Lastly, this is a time leaders can have a great influence on our team. I strongly believe that hard work is a part of leadership. You don’t have to be the most vocal person in the world to be an effective leader. If your teammates see you working hard before or after practice putting in extra time, doing extra things they’ll start following your lead. They’ll trust you. Therefore, consistent extra workers can and should ask their teammates to come in with them. With school out and everybody’s day wide open, now is the time to put in the work. The outcome of Saturday’s game vs. #3 Pitt depends on it as it won’t be won or lost by the plays made after the 3:15pm tip-off. It’ll be won or lost because of the effort, time and focus we put forth during our preparation as we act like professionals throughout each day of this week.
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