Imagine yourself spending your entire summer hitting the weights, working on your basketball weaknesses, only to hear your coach say, "Play within your role."
This can be one of the most disappointing things a basketball player can hear. Oftentimes this will make a player feel as if there is nothing they can do to expand their role. Now, possibly transferring and playing for a coach that better understands you starts to creep into your thoughts. Self doubt pours into the mind and things that once were easy on the court, become difficult for you again.
Many times coaches receive backlash, especially coaching at the younger ages, when they start talking about roles. Most parents are content with roles until they find out their child has a diminishing or less attractive one. Parents then worry that their kids won't play high school basketball, or have the opportunity to play collegiate basketball.
Stop worrying, here comes the good news! On every team, at every level, coaches are looking for guys to fill roles. If you can master your mind, then you have an opportunity to master the game. It is extremely important to become a well-rounded basketball player, but this doesn't mean you need to master or be the best at every aspect of the game. Some players lose opportunities because they refuse to be anything but a star. Every player must take into account their own athletic abilities and physical attributes.
The best way to establish yourself on your basketball team is to immediately play the role that you want to be when the first practice comes around. Early on, if you develop a reputation on the court that you don't think suits you, it will be hard to change that perception with your coach and teammates moving forward. At the beginning of the season, the best thing you can do is be aggressive and get out of your comfort zone. This will show the coaches that you aren't afraid and are willing to push yourself. If you've worked on your game, coaches will notice the difference and they will give you more opportunity moving forward. The worst that can happen at this point is the coaches telling you to dial it back and relax a bit.
After the first few weeks of practice, roles are starting to become more defined and coaches are realizing the strengths and weaknesses of each basketball player. If you happen to fall into a role that you may not like, have no fear. There is still hope. It's very important to continue to work on your game, but also extremely important to master your role. If your coach says your role is to rebound and play defense, master it and do that to the best of your abilities. This will help you earn playing time and help you develop trust with your coach. From there, your opportunities may expand.
Rebounding and playing defense may not seem like a glamorous role, but there are high school players earning college scholarships to do just that. There are NBA players that are signing multi-million dollar contracts to do just that. The difference between these players and most is that they have embraced their role, mastered it, continued to work hard and made the best out of the situation they were given.
Ultimately the best thing a player can do is remain positive in every situation, enjoy the game of basketball and continue to train hard and with a purpose!
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