1-Preparation: Did you get enough sleep or did you hang out late the night before a game?  Did you eat a healthy breakfast before leaving the house.  Visualize playing well. Listen to uplifting music. Remember your gear; socks, shoes, shirts, jersey, etc. Arrive early to the gym. What will you do if your ride doesn’t show up? Don’t be late! Remember the 5 P’s…Proper Planning Prevents Poor Performance.

2-Personality: Say hello to people before and after your games,  Your character is important. How you treat people is an indication of what type of person you are. No one likes to be around a jerk. Say hi to a coach if you happen to pass them. Be kind to the ref.

3-Respect All: Everywhere you go, you need to respect people. Fans, coaches, opposing players, trainers and officials. Treat the people who run the event with respect. Most of all, respect the game!

4-Bathroom Behavior: Don’t laugh. It’s amazing how many times I walk into a bathroom at an event and see a mess. In the sink, toilet and on the floor. Keep the restrooms clean.

5-Hallway Behavior: Often times you are required to walk from gym-to-gym for your games. You may even have to go to a different venue to play.  Be careful how you act. Toss your empty paper cups and Gatorade bottles in the trash can. Watch your language. Be careful how you talk about the opponent, your coach, a ref, or even a teammate. You never know who’s walking behind you.

6-In the Community: You’ll be at a hotel, dorm or at a local restaurant during your stay. You want people to enjoy your company.  The team name on your shirt will give you away. You want people to say good things about your organization. Act civilized.  Don’t act like a fool in public.  I often hear a college coach ask, “Is he a good kid?”  Don’t be a clown.

7-Game Time: Play hard, play with energy, share the ball, defend, rebound and be a great teammate.  It all begins with an inspired warm-up before the start of the game. Get in a right frame of mind. Make sure you are working on your dribbling, passing and your layups in warm-ups.  Work on the shots you will take in the game. It’s all about your effort and being unselfish.

8-Bench Behavior: You can’t be out on the floor the entire game. So while on the bench, be a great teammate. Cheer your guys on, sit up straight and pay attention.  No poor body language.  Don’t whine at the end of the bench with a towel over your head. Keep your head in the game. Be a coach to the younger players on your team. People are watching you.

9-Sprint, Sprint, Sprint: I’m not talking about your cell phone provider. Stop all this jogging on the court. You need to sprint the floor while you’re out on the court. Run your lanes hard. Hustle back on defense. Go hard. Never lose your hustle.

10-Communicate: Know when your games and practices are scheduled. Let your teammates know where your next game is being held. Stay in contact with your coach. Know what time you are leaving the hotel/dorm for your game or even what time you are leaving your school for the game. Listen with your eyes and ears. Communicate on the floor too. Talk on defense and on offense.

11-Between Games: Instead of sitting on the side like everyone else, find an open basket to get up some shots. Too many players sit around and waste time. Get a basketball and work on your dribbling? Stretch your body to stay loose. Drink water and eat a healthy snack. Stay in a cool area, don’t spend too much time in the sun. Do push-ups in the hallway. Be different. Don’t be cool; be competitive.

12-Confidence: Enjoy the trip wherever it may be. Know you belong, believe in yourself. If you have a poor game, bounce back and be ready to go the next one.  Let the bad game go, get over it quickly. Never lose your confidence, it allows you to perform to your best ability. Shoot the ball with confidence.

13-Work Ethic: Do everything in your power to improve. Don’t let too many days slip by where you don’t work on your game. Get out of bed early. Go run, go lift weights, get up some shots. Take your basketball and dribble up and down the street. You need to do something every day to get better.  If you shot the ball poorly at an event, make sure you put the time in to work on it. You have a lot of time, especially when school is out.

14-Parents: Make sure to act civilized on the road. Last thing you want to do is scream at the refs or even a coach. Many officials working AAU games are there to improve, give them a break. A college coach will not want to recruit you if your parents are out of control. Believe me, they consider this during the recruiting process. Return all calls and texts. Someone is interested in your child, get back to them ASAP.

Coach Finamore

Twitter: @CoachFinamore