5 Essential Training Camp Lessons for 2012 NBA Rookies
With the pictures taken and interviews all wrapped up after media day, it's time for the NBA players to change gears and get prepared for the upcoming season. This preparation starts with training camp—something the players were deprived of last year after the turmoil of a lockout.
Training camp is a great time for the players to refine their skills and make great leaps of improvement. It's also time to see how well the new rookies compare to their expectations.
This is just the first of many tests for the new guys. Training camp can help a rookie get off to a great start and earn solid playing time—or it could land them a spot on the end of the bench.
There is plenty to be learned during training camps for the rookies. Let's take a look at five lessons in particular that will be critical for this year's rookies to learn as they try to develop and reach their full potential.
5. Learn from the Veterans
Training camps are where the rookies can really get to know their teammates on the court and how the team operates as a whole.
Seeing some of the best basketball players in the world do what they do best can be very beneficial for the younger guys who are trying to improve their own game.
The best part is that these guys are now their teammates and can be very good sources of help.
Sure there will be assistant coaches and specialists to help improve jumpers or post moves, but the veterans are the guys that will be out there on the court to encourage or correct the rookies during the game.
Besides the basketball aspect, living the fast life of a professional athlete can be a tricky course. Being around guys who have been through a few seasons of these pitfalls can help keep a rookie hungry and focused on the right things.
4. Invest Your Time Wisely
Training camp is the official start of team basketball activities, which means that the party is officially over for all the rookies. The fanfare of being drafted is long gone, and now it's time to get down to business and start earning your money.
This means that all your focus should be on the upcoming season and doing everything you can to make yourself and the team better.
So if that means sacrificing video games, parties and even sleeping, that may be what it takes to launch yourself to the next level.
The NBA is a much different beast than college basketball. Rookies are generally going from being a superstar on their college team to a prospect in the pros.
There will be much less patience for development, especially if it is costing the team money and roster space, meaning the rookies will have to work as hard as they can to keep getting better.
If this means shooting extra free throws after practice, running extra miles on the treadmill, improving their diet or watching more game film, then so be it.
Sure, there will be time to have fun and relax, but as of right now, these rookies haven't earned anything in the NBA. In order to do so, they will have to work for it.
3. Make a Good Impression with Coaches
The relationship between players and coaches is often put under the microscope of criticism, and for good reason. It can make or break a career, and can affect the rest of the team in a major way.
For rookies, they will be getting a whole new set of coaches that they have to adapt to and build a rapport with. Therefore, it is key to use training camp to get off to a good start and earn some trust from their coaches.
With this trust, maybe more playing time could result. With more playing time, there could even be more improvement.
Besides helping a player get more burn, having a solid relationship with the coaches will help a player grow faster. The more committed to getting better a player is, the more willing a coach usually is to dedicate time and effort to help him get there.
If a young player is absorbing advice he is given and working hard in practice, then the coaches can't help but want to aid him in his development and go above and beyond to do so.
2. Be Confident in Your Game
Coming into the world of the NBA can be a scary thing for some players—whether they are willing to admit it or not.
The guys around them are much bigger, faster and stronger than most of the players they saw in college, and that can be very intimidating.
Last year, we saw highly touted rookie Jimmer Fredette struggle to capture the same magic he had in his BYU days, as he would often pass out of shots or become indecisive when handling the ball.
What these rookies need to remember during training camp is that they are wearing a jersey because people in that organization believe that they can play at a professional level.
They need to realize that someone saw something special in them. They need to seize this rare opportunity to become an NBA player.
If a player has no confidence in himself, how can he convince anyone else that he deserves minutes or even a spot on the roster? He can't.
Confidence is a huge key for rookies to assimilate themselves with some of the best basketball players in the world and make a name for themselves.
1. Embrace the Learning Experience
It can be rather frustrating for a rookie to see his attempts to get better fall short time after time. However, it's not the end of the world if they aren't hitting the shots like they did in college or if they are struggling to keep up on defense.
In fact, it's natural for them to be behind the pack when they first start playing against NBA-caliber players.
However, it's in the rookies' best interest to embrace the challenge and roll with the punches. If playing in the NBA was easy, there would be a lot more guys gunning for their spot.
Growing takes time and, most importantly, patience. Some rookies won't find their groove right away, and it could take a couple of seasons until they find it. What's important is that they keep grinding and pushing themselves through adversity, even when it seems impossible to overcome.
With the right attitude, mindset and work ethic, these rookies can accomplish great things in their NBA careers. They just need to realize that all of that success and payoff may not come right away—and it certainly won't be an easy task.
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