Read on to find answers to all your questions on how to become a better athlete through practice. This information will change your total outlook toward practice forever.
Introduction

Today's athletic programs are specially designed to develop just about any skill an athlete needs to succeed in sports. However, only a small number of athletes have found the secret of getting the most out of the so-called "wonder" programs. For the most part, these programs seem to have failed the general population. Throughout my playing days, I just like you, thought that successful athletes were simply superior. In 1997, I set out to find the secret behind their successes because regular practice was not helping me improve my basketball handling skills. I interviewed dozens of athletes about their training methods, and asked what they thought were the keys to their athletic success.

"I was lucky enough to have a coach at home," one National Basketball Association superstar said. "My dad, a former professional basketball player, made sure I practiced the right way."

A former Phoenix Suns' guard said, "I just became good over time."

The majority of the athletes I interviewed were unable to find anything special that they did to pave their way to stardom, however, they all remember practicing very hard. Using results from these interviews and my personal experiences, I wrote Success Secret through Practice. This booklet outlines nonrestrictive training strategies that anybody can use to become a better athlete through practice. Success Secret through Practice does not tell you what to do, it gives you proven strategies to help you do what you choose to do better. These strategies include an athletic psycho-analysis to determine your weak skills, customizing a practice, identifying the true qualities of a superstar within you, and building the confidence needed to perform under pressure once you have developed the necessary skills.

Success Secret through Practice will also help answer the most important question that athletes ask their coaches when practicing: How long will it take to become a better athlete through practice. Put in simple terms, how long will it take to learn, master, perfect, and use new or improved skills in a real game situation?

Success Secret through Practice will give you proven tips and strategies that will change your attitude toward practice forever. The tips and strategies will help you psycho-analysis and understand yourself as an athlete. But most important, the tips and strategies will help you understand what you need to do to succeed through practice. After reading this booklet, if you are still unprepared, have a bad session or quit before finishing your daily practice session, you will leave with a lot of guilt. This guilty feeling of not doing your best based on what you know about getting better through practice is the driving force behind Success Secret through Practice. If you apply these tips and strategies outlined in this booklet to your daily workout, you are guaranteed amazing results in a very short time. The visible results will also boost your confidence, improve your self-esteem and morale as well as motivate you to keep practicing harder to attain your goal of becoming a star athlete.

We all know what we need to do to succeed in our endeavors, yet only a few of us really understand, and do what is necessary to succeed through practice. Remember, there is a big difference between knowing and understanding something. For example, almost everybody knows that a car need gasoline to run, however, very few people understand combustion engine - how gasoline makes a car run. Take time to understand your needs, then make a firm commitment to work hard and use tips and strategies that have been proven to produce results to guide you in your athletic endeavors. Trust me, I have used Success Secret through Practice tips and strategies to set a world record every summer since 1997 en-route to becoming the world's greatest basketball dribbler.

SUCCESS SECRET STEPS

Athletic success comes in many forms. Recreational athletes consider getting out and participating in their respective sports of interest a success. Other athletes take part in competitive sports, however, they are not so much result or championship driven; a good game, win or lose is considered a great success. Athletic endeavors of these kinds do not require much effort from the participants; participation, having fun, and good sportsmanship is the name of the game.

Competitive athletes on the other hand use the win/lose columns to gauge their success. These goal-oriented athletes seek the services of high profile coaches, and programs like weight-training in an attempt to get an edge over their opponents. Despite the advancement in coaching and training programs, many athletes still fall short in their quests to become superstars. Generally, most athletes fail because they do not identify the skills they need to improve or develop to succeed. Even after isolating their weaknesses, many still fail because they do not understand what it takes to become a better athlete through practice.

The secret to success through practice lies in being able to identify your weak skills, and customizing a workable program to improve or develop the skills through practice. This is followed by perfecting the new or improved skills, finding their perfect-fit, and developing the confidence to use the skills in pressure situations. These success secret strategies are embedded in four steps:
  1. Athletic Psycho-analysis.
  2. Showtime #1 (Family members and friends).
  3. Showtime #2 (Tryout and team practice).
  4. Showtime #3 (Primetime).

An athlete must go through these four important steps in one way or another to succeed through practice. In normal circumstance, it takes an athlete at least two years to go through each step with regular practice.

Success Secret through Practice will show you how to combine these four steps, and go through them in less than two years. Remember, it will be much easier to succeed if you understand what it takes to become a better athlete through practice.

ATHLETIC PSYCHO-ANALYSIS

Not every successful athlete approaches practice from an athletic psychoanalysis perspective. Some athletes rely on physical and natural abilities, thus they go through practice without much thought about what they are doing. Research has shown that athletes who use psychoanalysis approach - visualize and think of what they are doing in practice, tend to do better in competition than those who simply go through the motions.

Psycho-analysis approach in practice allows an athlete to prepare and perform well in a real-game. When we are about to succeed in anything that we do, we tend to get excited or fearful. These emotional mind-set can affect our concentration and the outcome of our performance. Also, the fear of failing triggers all sorts of negative thoughts that might cloud our judgement. Simulating real- game situation and analyzing what you do in practice will allow you to learn to concentrate, control your emotions, judgement, and physical respond when faced with similar situations in a real-game.

Take practicing free-throw at the end of practice for example. You can create a pressure situation by setting a goal to make ten free throws in a row before leaving. For every missed free throw, you add one more basket to your consecutive total. You will have to concentrate, use correct shooting technique, control your emotions and frustrations when you miss a shot, and excitement when you are about to achieve your goal or you will never leave the gym. These attributes help develop an athlete's confidence and a good state of mind when performing under pressure. The attributes will also help an athlete recover quickly from a mid-season slump because the athlete can identify the source of his or her problem (lacking attribute), and work to fix it in practice.

Athletes with poor habits spend many hours practicing (going through the motion) without noticing any considerable improvement in their skills. For example, shooting a hundred jump shots daily without thinking about the proper techniques, and simulating real game situations will not improve an athlete's game time shooting ability. Likewise, playing pick-up games all day without developing good fundamental skills will only make an athlete dependent on limited skills; athletes with limited skills are defendable.

Frustration from lack of progress and motivation cause athletes with poor practicing habits to give up. Remember that it takes more than regular practice with high-powered coaches or programs to succeed. The road to success starts with you visualizing a complete mental picture of the skills you want to improve or develop. Next, developing a customized program with special drills designed to target your weak skills while maintaining mastered ones. You must know how to execute all the drills in your practice program correctly to benefit from the drills. Of-course, the skills you are practicing must relate to your sport of interest.

Remember, athletes play the way they practice. If your practice intensity does not come close to matching that of a real game, you will not succeed under pressure. In other words, you must be very comfortable executing your skills in practice before you can use them successfully in a real game.

After learning, mastering, and perfecting your skills, you must work to develop performance confidence. Only then, will you realize the effect of your program and hard work in practice. The following nine tips will guide you in your psycho-analysis approach to organizing and making your practice meaningful and productive:
  • Identify your weak skills
  • Think about your weak skills.
  • Develop a step-by-step practice program.
  • Get a feel for your program.
  • Practice individual steps to perfection.
  • Put the steps together to learn the skill.
  • Developing good rhythm and coordination.
  • Finding the perfect-fit.
  • Use your practice time for practice only.

Remember that sleeping in the gymnasium (gym rat) will not make you a better athlete. Using the psycho-analysis approach, the right program, being serious and focused on developing your weak skills whenever you set out to practice, will make you a better athlete.

Identify Your Weak Skills

Before settling on or customizing a workout program, you must first identify your weak skills. In most cases, athletes ask their coaches to help them identify the skills they need to work on to become better player. Some athletes are students of the game! They are able to determine what they need to develop or improve by observing their opponents. Yet, others are motivated to work hard because of lack of playing time or failing in their tryouts.

Michael Jordan, the greatest basketball player of our time, was inspired to practice harder after he failed to make his high school team. These are just a few ways of analyzing your abilities, identifying the weak skills, and getting the motivation to work hard to improve them and become a better player through practice.

Regardless of the method, you must identify your weak skills before settling on a practice program. Remember, you will get to your destination of becoming a better athlete through practice quicker if you know where to start. Trust Success Secret through Practice to guide you the rest of the way to the top of your game.

Think About Your Weak Skills

Let your mind wonder and loose sleep thinking of ways to improve or develop your weak skills through practice. Ask yourself this pivotal question: "Why should I work to improve or develop my skills?" If your answer is my coach made me or I do not know, chances are you will not succeed regardless of how hard you practice. You know where to start - how to develop your skills, however, you lack focus, self-discipline, motivation, and most important, a purpose for practicing. Running an extra lap to impress your coach will not make you a better athlete. You will become a better athlete if you are focused, disciplined and self-motivated, and make a firm commitment to work hard whenever you set out to practice.

Setting Short- and Long-term Goals

At this time, set short- and long-term goals, which will motivate you to keep practicing. Do not be modest or unrealistic when setting your goals. Set goals that are high, and can be attained by working work. The short-term goals are important because they will help you monitor your daily progress as you work toward the long-term goals. You will periodically adjust the short-term goals as you work toward the long term goal of leaning or improving your skills.

For example, your long-term goal is to be master dribbling a basketball with the left hand by the end of summer. During the first week of practice, your short-term goal will be to master dribbling the basketball with your left hand from a stationary position. Your short-term goal will be to dribble the basketball with your left hand for five minute every day after regular practice until you master this step. Gradually, your will increase you practice time until you master left-hand stationary dribbling (see page 12-13).

After mastering the left-hand stationary dribbling, you will make the necessary adjustment by going to the next step - walking while dribbling with the left-hand. Gradually, you will add running while dribbling, the crossover dribbling techniques, and eventually try to dribble the basketball with your left hand during team practice.

These positive reinforcements (adding new short-term goals), will motivate as well as keep you focused during the long and boring repetitive practices because the long-term goal seems attainable. The long-term goals will remain unchanged most of the times. However, there will be times when you will need to change the long-term goals to keep up with your daily practice progress (short-term goals).

Develop a Step-by-step Practice Program

After identifying and thinking about your weak skills, and setting short- and long-term goals, work on developing a step-by-step practice program to improve or develop the skills. Consult your coach to find the best available drills or programs to meet your needs. You may also use instructional booklets, videotapes or DVDs. If none of these available resources meet your needs, improvise by making up your own drills or programs. Your program should include special drills designed to target your weak skills while maintaining mastered ones. Make sure you know how to execute all the drills in your program properly to realize their full effects. Break difficult skills into simple, manageable, and complementary steps, then develop drills to master individual steps. This step-by-step practice method will allow you to focus on only one aspect of a difficult skill (see sample program on dribbling two basketballs - page 12-13).

When I was practicing how to dribble five basketballs, I ran into some distractions at a local park in Mesa, Arizona. A parent visiting the park with his son stopped to watch me practice. The little boy watched me chased basketballs all over the court every time I messed up - basketballs bumping each other and scattering everywhere. The boy thought the name of the game was to scatter basketballs all over the court, then retrieve them. He soon joined the fun; instead of helping me gather the basketballs, he picked them up and chucked them even further away. To my surprise, his father ignored the little boy's action. He made no attempt to stop him or help me retrieve the basketballs. Out of frustration, I packed up and moved away from the distraction. The rest of practice went well even though I did not meet my goal of dribbling five basketballs on that day.

After entering my daily progress in my journal as I did every night, I went to bed thinking about why it was taking such a long time to learn how to dribble five basketballs. The distraction came to mind; I thought of how I picked up two basketballs in each hand and kicked the fifth one with my feet to the new spot. For a moment, my mind oscillated around the transition to the new spot. Then, I figured it out! I could dribble five basketballs with this new technique - two with each hand, and the fifth one with my feet. I jumped out of bed in the middle of the night, and hurried to the computer to document my new finding. After playing around with the new technique for several minutes, I came up with the steps and drills for learning the hands-and-feet dribbling technique.

The next morning, I made the adjustment; I dropped my old "hand only" technique and incorporated my feet into the mix. After a couple of run even thought they only lasted two to three seconds, I was able to dribble five basketballs simultaneously.

Sample Practice (two basketballs dribbling)

  1. One ball right hand dribbling (standing)
  2. One ball right hand dribbling (seating)
  3. One ball left hand dribbling (standing)
  4. One ball left hand dribbling (seating)
Check Your Skills (Drill # ________: Part ________)
  1. One ball front crossover dribbling (standing)
  2. One ball right hand dribbling (seating)
  3. One ball front crossover dribbling (standing)
  4. One ball left hand dribbling (seating)
Check Your Skills (Drill # ________: Part ________)
  1. Two balls alternating hands dribbling (standing)
  2. One ball front crossover dribbling (seating)
Check Your Skills (Drill # ________: Part ________)
  1. Two balls front crossover dribbling (standing)
  2. Two balls alternating hands dribbling (seating)
  3. Two balls between the legs crossover dribbling (standing)
  4. Two balls alternating hands dribbling (seating)
Check Your Skills (Drill # ________: Part ________)
  1. Two balls front crossover dribbling (standing)
  2. Two balls between the legs crossover dribbling (standing)
  3. Two balls alternating hands dribbling (seating)
  4. Two balls behind the back crossover dribbling (standing)
  5. Two balls alternating hands dribbling (seating)
  6. Two balls reverse-spin dribbling (standing)
  7. Two balls alternating hands dribbling (seating).
Check Your Skills (Drill # ________: Part ________)
  1. Two balls alternating hands speed (running) dribbling
  2. Two balls alternating hands stationary dribbling
  3. Two balls crossover speed dribbling (four styles)
  4. Two balls crossovers stationary dribbling (four styles)
Starting with part-one of the dribbling workout (drills I-4), do 5 sets of 50 repetitions for each drill. After each set (part), do another 25 repetitions for any drill that you are having problems with as part of Check Your Skills. Check Your Skills will allow you to continue learning new skills while maintaining mastered ones. Take a short break between each set of drills. Try to master the drills in one part of the workout before going to the next. Expect to spend from 5 minutes to an hour in each part of the workout. I mastered two basketballs dribbling technique in just two weeks using this workout.

Get a Feel of Your Program

Walk through and get a general feeling of the drills in your program. Adjust or move drills around to maintain a good flow, and most important, give your body time to rest between strenuous exercises. For example, if you sprint on one drill, catch your breath with a stationary drill. If you do one drill crouching, rest your back with an upright drill. These adjustments will allow you practice efficiently. You will be able to rest between strenuous drills without taking a physical break (see sample practice on dribbling two basketballs on page 12-13).

Eliminate identical drills and put mastered skills between difficult drills. Again, this adjustment will ease your practice frustrations as well as help you maintain mastered skills while learning new ones. Make the final adjustments in your master program before setting out to officially start your workout. Remember, you will continue fine-tuning and adjusting your program to meet your short- and long-term goals as you progress with your daily practice. Do not forget to record your practice progress for future reference.

Practice Individual Drills to Perfection

Starting with the first set of drills in your revised program, practice them to perfection before going to the next set. I will cover athletic perfection later under Developing Good Rhythm and Coordination. The step-by-step practice will allow you to concentrate on one aspect of your weak skills at a time. This method will also enable you to monitor your practice progress, and make the necessary adjustments to meet your short- and long-term goals. In other words, you will be in full control of your workout, understanding why you are practicing each drill, and knowing when to hold back or go to the next set of drills. Successful athletes, just like coaches, are never satisfied with their performances. They are constantly making adjustments, pushing harder, and doing the little things to stay ahead of the competition. Success Secret through Practice will give yo this very important coach edge.

Do not attempt to learn more than two new skills in any given practice session. Too many instructions at once will make it difficult for you to isolate and concentrate on the important attributes needed to succeed with individual steps, thus prolonging the learning process. Set daily practice expectations (short-term goals), and do not leave until you attain your goals. Some sessions, you will finish early; other times, you will practice late depending on your scheduled workouts. These expectations will also force you to practice efficiently because you will only leave after attain your daily goals.

Resist the temptation to cheat or rush through your workout when the going gets tough. Maintain a positive attitude, and practice for as long as it will take you to complete your daily workout. Learning new skills will take up to five practice sessions depending on the skill's difficulty, your commitment, and work ethic. Scale down your workout if it takes more than a week to learn a skill.

Give each step or drill a name, and have fun practicing. Come up with different ways of doing the same drills or steps to avoid boring, repetitive practices. You may practice with music if you want to add some excitement to your workout. Remember that there is no shortcut to becoming a better athlete through practice. You must understand the importance of working hard at some point in your athlete career to succeed. The hard work must be also be coupled with the right drills to develop skills that relate to your sport of interest.

Put the Steps Together to Learn the Skill

After mastering individual steps, chain them together to learn the new skill. If you followed the step-by-step practice method and mastered complementary steps, the steps should fit together without much difficulty. Mastering a learned skill will take up to three practice sessions. If it takes longer than a week, scale down your workout; you may be doing too much. Remember, every time you add a step toward learning a new skill, you will temporary lose the ability to execute the skill properly. After a few practice sessions, you will regain the skill if you have mastered the previous and the new steps.

Developing Good Rhythm and Coordination

Athletes get carried away when thinking about perfecting our skills, and this has a profound effect on our ability to learn new skills. You must realize that athletic perfection is a misnomer. It does not literally means executing a skill exactly as it is described in a textbook. What it means is developing good rhythm and coordination that allows an athlete to execute a skill the same way every time without much thought, and get desired results. Regardless of whether a technique is right or wrong, an athlete can attain perfection with diligent practice.

Think about walking for a moment. Walking is a voluntary action that we learn through practice from childhood as our leg muscles get stronger. Over time, we develop good rhythm and coordination that allows us to transform walking into an involuntary action; transfer the walking action to our subconscious mind. We are able to do other things like dribbling a basketball while walking because we have freed the "walking-action" from our voluntary mental control. We are aware of walking, however, we do not stop to think about our next steps. No two people walk exactly the same, however, we have all perfected the ability to where we go about our businesses without even thinking about it; that is perfection through practice.

The 2300 Rule

How long will it take to perfect a skill? My research revealed that it will take an average of 23 sets of 100 successful repetitions to perfect a skill. Notice I have used the terms "successful repetitions" instead of just repetitions. When practicing to perfecting a skill, you must work on a technique that gives you the desired results. Skimming or hurrying through drills or steps will delay perfection because you are not isolating and practicing the ideal technique. This delay in perfecting a skill can lead to frustration and loss of motivation to continue practicing when an athlete does not realize positive results. Your persistent, patience, and work ethic will determine how long you practice before perfecting a skill. My research showed it will take from two to an infinite number of practice sessions to perfect a skill. Unsuccessful athletes spend their entire careers working for perfection.

The perfection rule (23 sets of 100 repetitions) seems discouraging if you think of it as doing every skill 2300 successful times to develop good rhythm and coordination. The good news is you do not have to practice every skill that many times to achieve perfection. All you need to do is perfect a base for a particular set of skills with The 2300 Rule. All other options derived from this base will subsequently require less repetitions to perfect (see the step-by-step practice method on page 10).

Consider the straight jump shot as a base for a series of jump shot scoring options. After perfecting the straight jump shot with The 2300 Rule, related scoring options derived from this base like shooting the fade-away and the turnaround jump shots or the layup shot will require fewer repetitions to perfect. Although these scoring options are different in terms of how they are executed in the early stages (entry points), they all end up with a straight jump shot (base). The conventional one-step hook shot, jump hook shot, dribbling, passing are other examples of bases that will require The 2300 Rule to perfect.

Finding the Perfect-fit

To ultimately succeed with a new or improved skill, you must understand the skill, and find its perfect-fit. A perfect-fit is a subconscious action or a "thing" that athletes do when executing a skill. This "thing" allows an athlete to visualize a skill, aline the techniques, and execute the skill the right way without much thought.

Again, take the jump shooting technique for illustration; solid stance with the strong foot slightly forward - basketball held in the shooting pocket - elbow lined up with the toes, etc. When shooting a jump shot, you do not physically think about all these aspects of the shot. If you do, there is a very good chance that you are a poor jump shooter. However, there is something that good shooters do that allows them to line-up the technical aspects of the shot, and shoot the jump shot in a split of a second while attaining desired results.

This "thing" might be leaning the head slightly to one side, positioning the elbow at a certain angle, pointing the thumb of the shooting hand at the center of the basket, bringing the knees together or turning the off-foot slightly when getting into the jump shot. This unique "thing" that athletes do subconsciously when getting read to execute a skill is what I call a "perfect-fit" for that particular skill. Work hard to understand and find the perfect-fits for your skills. The perfect-fits will allow you be consistent in your performance because you will execute your skills the same way every time, and get positive results.

After learning how to dribble six basketballs, I noticed a very disturbing trend when I was working on perfect the skill. There were times when I was able to sustain dribbling the six basketballs for about forty-second. With the next repetition, I was unable to even start the dribbling. This frustrating up-and-down phenomenon continued for several days. I finally decided to videotape my practices as I desperately tried to understand why there was that much fluctuation between successive repetitions. The video analysis revealed that I was using multiple techniques to execute the single skill of dribbling six basketballs. These four techniques were as follows:
  • Starting the feet dribbling with the left foot.
  • Starting the feet dribbling with the right foot.
  • Pushing the front hand basketballs hard to the floor.
  • Various combination of techniques 1-3
All these techniques had various degrees of success, however, I noticed that I sustained the dribbling longer with a combination of the first and fourth techniques. That was the "perfect-fit" for dribbling six basketballs - pushing the front hand basketballs a little harder to the floor, and leading the feet dribbling with the left foot. Using these adjustments, I was able to sustain the dribbling long enough to set a world record for the most basketballs dribbled simultaneously after several practices. If you are executing a skill, and the results are inconsistent, there is a good chance that you are using multiple techniques. Take time to understand your skill, find its perfect-fit, and remove inconsistency in your game.

Use Your Practice Time for Practice Only

There are many things that will get your mind off practice if you are not careful. When practicing, you must not only be there physically, you must also be there mentally to succeed. You may be tempted to ease up or simply go through the motion once you get used to drills in your practice program or see some success. Sometime, you may opt to hurry through strenuous drills or skip to other fun activities like playing pick-up games. Unexpected situations like injuries or hitting a plateau will also contribute toward derailing your practice progress. When you hit a plateau, you reach a point (threshold) where your body temporary stop responding to practice. I will go over the plateau effect later under Inspiration for the Booklet on page 29.

Work hard to identify situations you think might distract your practices. Write them down and do your best to keep them from interfering or taking your mind off practice. Look for a quiet place even if it means practicing at odd hours or outdoor. When practicing outside, make sure you stay hydrated by drinking a lot of water. Try to stick to your set program as much as possible when you set out to practice. Do not give into the temptations of skimming or hurrying through the workout. Also, avoid skipping to fun activities like playing pick-up games if they are not scheduled in your practice program. Developing good habits early will benefit you later in your career when you will be faced with even bigger challenges and temptations.

Sometime, athletes get carried away by accolades that follow their success. It is easy to let up in practice and ride the fame especially when everybody is telling you that you are the best. Remember, accolades come with the pressure and expectation to perform at an even higher level. You must also remember that it is very tough to get to the top of your game, and even tougher to say on top. Be stingy with your practice time and use it for that purpose only.

Daily Practice Time

Athletes' bodies are different and they respond differently to the same stimuli. Also, athletes at different stages of development need to work on different skills to get better through practice. Thus, setting a generic "one-size-fit-all" practice time is not practical. Your practice time will depend on the skills you need to develop, your goals, work ethics, and most important, your desire to want to succeed. I recommend practicing for as long as it will take to complete your workout, and attain your daily goals.

The first step of Success Secret through Practice is designed for learning, mastering, and perfecting new or improved skills. This step also shows an athlete how to understand the new skills by experimenting, and finding their perfect-fits. The perfect-fit allows you to execute a skill the same way every time, and get good results.

The next three steps will guide you through the confidence building phase. You may have the best fundamental skills to complement extraordinary natural and physical abilities. However, if you do not have the confidence to use these abilities under pressure situations, they are worthless. At the end of the day, you must develop the confidence to perform under pressure to be successful using your new or improved skills in a real game.

SHOWTIME # 1 (Family members and friends)

You will start the confidence building-phase by showing off your new or improved skills to people close to you like family members and friends. Showcasing your skills in front of familiar faces is less stressful because you know the audience and there are no consequences if you fail to perform as expected - the friendly audience will still love you. They will cheer when you succeed, and be sympathetic when you struggle. They will also encourage you to continue practicing to get better.

I unofficially set my first world record of dribbling four basketballs simultaneously in front of a homeless person at a local park in Mesa, Arizona. I thought the gentleman enjoyed the world record performance. I later found out that he acted like he cared because he wanted to ask me for loose change after the performance.

SHOWTIME #2 (Tryout and team practice)

The second phase of confidence building is similar to team practice or tryout for a team. It has some consequences because you will be competing against athletes with similar skills. You will also be judged based on your outright performance. If you are trying out, your performance will determine whether you make the team or try again next year. If you are already on the team, your performance in practice will determine whether you start, come off the bench or cheer from the sideline.

Try to use your new or improved skills in every available opportunity in practice to build the confidence needed to use them in a real game. Remember, if you are not comfortable using your skills in practice, there is no way you will be successful using them under pressure. You must work on improving your weak skills, finding their perfect-fits, and building performance confidence side-by-side to succeed through practice.

SHOWTIME # 3 (Primetime)

Serious athletes practice with visions of eventually playing at the highest level of their respective sports. Showtime #3 is the final hurdle that you have to clear on your way to stardom. The consequences in this phase are extremely high with very little room for error because other athletes are also racing toward the same hurdle.

This hurdle can be equated to making a last second shot to win or send a game to overtime or making a defensive stop to preserve a win. If you are lucky enough to be one of those athletes heading for the final hurdle, you better be ready to deliver because you will only get one chance to make a good impression. If you look closely at star athletes' backgrounds, you will find defining moments that projected or set the stage for them to become superstars down the road - that is the final hurdle.

The 2 + n Approach

Excellent performance cannot be turned on and off like a light switch contrary to some athletes' beliefs. Your good performance today does not depend on yesterday's or even last week's practice. If you have not perfected your skills through many hours of previous practices, the overnight quick fix is just an illusion to disguise your guilty feeling for not doing your homework (perfecting your skills prior to competition). You must perfect your skills, and find their perfect-fits before you can maintain them with regular practice and use them successfully in the game.

My research revealed that it will take an athlete at least two years (2+ n) to develop, and use new or improved skills in a real game. This development phase includes learning, mastering, and perfecting new or improved skills. After perfecting the skills, you must work hard to find the skills' perfect-fits, and develop the confidence (Showtime Series) to use them under pressure.

The value of the variable "n" in the expression (2 + n Approach), ranges from zero to infinity. It depends on your desire and firm commitment to want to succeed through practice. If you are a keen athlete with a strong desire to succeed, the value of your "n" will probably be zero. Thus, it will take you (2 + 0 = 2) years to become a better athlete through practice. Athletes who fail to make it to the pinnacles of their careers never assign a value to the variable "n."

QUALITIES OF A SUPERSTAR

We all know of athletes who seem to have just about everything they need to succeed, yet, they hover around mediocre and average status. Most of these superhuman athletes rely heavily on their natural and physical abilities. Research has repeatedly shown that natural and physical abilities will offer an athlete amazing advantages only when they are supplemented with sound fundamental skills, and wrapped in confidence. The main qualities that will turn an average athlete into a superstar are ignored because of their simplicities. These superstar qualities that every human being is born with are as follows.
  • Faith.
  • Persistence.
  • Patience.
  • Hard Work.
We all have these qualities, however, you must reach deep within yourself to bring them out. As simple as they appear, you must realize that these qualities are an integral part of your quest to become a better athlete through practice. These qualities will allow you to develop confidence, and sound fundamental skills to supplement or replace natural and physical abilities on your way to the top of your game.

FAITH

Faith is the internal belief that allows us to think positively in the midst of impossibilities. There is no guarantee that you will become a better athlete through practice because factors beyond your control like a poor system (team or coach), injuries or sickness might hinder your progress. In spite of these odds, faith will enable you to believe that you will succeed even when people around you or your conscious mind tells you otherwise. You must believe in yourself, your ability, and trust Success Secret through Practice tips to guide you in your quest to become a better athlete through practice. Never doubt or underestimate what you are capable of achieving if you have faith (believe in yourself).

If you do not have faith, no matter how hard you practice, what skills you posses - natural or physical, you will not succeed. On the other hand, if you have faith, you will do whatever is necessary to succeed through practice. Faith will also enable you to submit to your workout, and follow it diligently to the top of your game.
"We are limited more by our beliefs that our ability." - Author Alex Baldwin.


PERSISTENCE

Becoming a better athlete through practice is not a simple task. It requires making difficult choices, sacrifices, practicing long hours, and doing things that you do not like - following directions. Some days, you will go through tough times, and quitting will seem like a feasible option. Unforeseen adversities like sickness, injuries, coaching change, and even outright failure will threaten to derail your quest to become a better athlete through practice. When faced with these unfortunate situations, you will need to be persistent to endure the adversities, and keep coming back to face more hardship until you attain your goal of become a superstar. If you are persistent, and stick to your program long enough, you will succeed through practice.

PATIENCE

Learning, mastering, and perfecting new skills require countless hours of practicing the same drills or steps over-and-over again. Developing confidence or finding a skill's perfect-fit requires even longer practice sessions. When you hit a plateau (discussed later on page 29 under Inspiration for the Booklet), you will not notice any physical progress for a while no matter how hard you practice. When going through such difficult situations, athletes tend to deal with them by skipping to other fun activities that produce instant results or make them feel good. Some even ignore the situations together, and hope that they will correct themselves over time.

You must realize that difficult situations in practice will not go away or correct themselves. You have to physically take matters into your own hand, and work to correct the situations with appropriate measures - being patient in practice. Patience will allow you to weather the storm calmly, and endure the long boring, repetitive practice sessions until you attain your goals. This quality will also enable you to give every opportunity a chance to develop a character.

HARD WORK

There is no substitute or shortcut to working hard in real-life. You must bring the old-fashion "hard work" attitude to practice every day to succeed. At some point in your career, you must learn the important of working hard to become a superstar. Remember, if there was a shortcut to anywhere worth going, everybody would already be there - playing professional sports in our case.

Over Training

When athletes finally figure out a way of doing something and get positive result, they tend to over compensate, which can easily lead to over training in one area. Also, focusing on only one aspect of your game will lead to regression in other important areas. Try to use the "break though" concept in other areas of your game in order to produce a well-rounded athlete.

Listen to your body and push yourself as far as possible without over training. There will be times when you will feel like you are tired right after stepping on the court for practice. This tired feeling often occurs when working on difficult skills or preparing for major competitions. It is a normal way through which our bodies try to deal with stressful situations. When feeling fatigue, stop and stretch slowly for 10 to 15 minutes before resuming practice. In most cases, the tired feeling will go away after a few minutes into practice.

If the tired feeling lingers, there is a good chance that you are actually tired. Stop practicing, try to relax and get plenty of rest before the next session. Also, eat healthy food and drink lots of water. You may need to look at your practice program closely to make sure that you are not doing more than your body can physically handle. Also, make sure that you are not practicing with an injury. If the feeling of fatigue last for more than two sessions, see your doctor for a complete physical check up before resuming practice. You may be practicing with a condition that requires medical attention.

Dealing with Injuries

Athletes are able to deal with simple injury like a busted lip, broken nose or a bruised forehead because such injuries do not directly affect their ability to practice. Other injuries like a sprained ankle, bruised ribs, broken foot, etc., directly affects an athlete's ability to practice. Ignoring major injury will affect your practice and slow down your progress. There are many physical and psychological reasons why athletes tend to hide and play through injuries outside of simply being tough. The followings are the most important:
  1. Fear of losing their position on the team.
  2. Fear of being deactivated.
  3. Feeling of not being in control - fear of losing already learned skills.
  4. Boredom from lack of physical activity.
  5. Drive to win at all cost.
Seek medical attention as soon as possible when you are injured. This will allow you to get better and return to practice sooner. Taking too much time off because of aggravating an old injury that was not given enough time to heal can push you back to the starting level if you are not careful. Remember, you want to take as little time off practice as possible to continue your positive development.

When rehabilitating your body back to health, try to do other exercises that do not put pressure on the injured part to stay in shape. For example, if you are rehabilitating a sprained ankle, you can still work on your upper body strength by lifting weights (bench exercises only). If you are a basketball player, you can work on your dribbling while sitting down. Ask your coach or trainer for a list of drills or exercises in your respective sports that does not exert pressure on the injured part of your body to keep in shape during rehabilitation. It will be easier to return to regular practice after a break if you keep your body and mind involved, even with simple exercise like situps.

Positive Attitude

Maintain a positive attitude when dealing with injuries. If you are unable to do any physical activity, use this time to stay in the game by reading to gain more knowledge about your sports of interest. You may also use this time to explore or look up other drills, and practice methods to try when you get better. Doing something to take your mind off your injury will allow you to deal with the situation positively. Finally, listen to your doctor's advise, and do not attempt to return to practice without getting a clean bill of health from your physician. Try not to make decisions based on fear when dealing with injuries. If you have issued that are bothering your like thoughts of losing your position i the team, talk to your coach to help you clear your mind. Rushing back to practice when you are not fully heal can aggravate and old injury and make it even worst that before.

While working on dribbling six basketballs, I was frustrated one afternoon because I was not getting anywhere although I was practice harder than before. It felt like I was regressing instead of getting better with intense practice. I inadvertently kicked one of the basketballs, and severely sprained my big right-toe. For the next six weeks, I was unable to use my right foot in practice. During this time, I practiced my dribbling while sitting on a high chair. I also used this time to bring my lagging left-foot dribbling technique to the same level as the right foot. Practicing does not end just because you are injured. There are many things that you can do to stay active. Maintain a positive attitude and be creative. You will be amazed of the many things that you can do when taking time of due to an injury.

Personal Experience

After two years of intense practice (4 to 6 hours) a day, I was ready to showcase my ball-handling skills to the basketball world. The opportunity came when the Phoenix Suns Professional Basketball Organization invited me to help them celebrate the National Basketball Association's 50th Anniversary. I prepared a 15 minutes routine with my top 50 tricks and stunts. When I took the stage at America West Arena, I only remembered 10 random tricks before my mind went blank. For the next 11 minutes, I scrambled to entertain the audience, stopping every minute or so to gather my thoughts. My first real performance was almost a disaster. Luckily, I was not performing a set routine in front of judges. The audience at America West Arena in Phoenix, Arizona, thought my improvising was part of the performance.

Looking back at my performance from a Success Secret through Practice perspective, I now realized why I almost failed although I was fully prepared for the show. Learning, mastering, and perfecting my ball-handling skills was not enough. I needed to also find the perfect-fits, and build performance confidence before stepping on stage to showcase my ball-handling skills successfully. Armed with the new findings, I went back to practice and paid close attention to the showtime series. With my skills perfected, rhythm and coordination fully developed (perfection), and confidence raising high, my next performance was an instant success.

In two years, I went from a computer programmer to becoming one of the world's best ball-handlers. I officially broke the world record by dribbling five basketballs simultaneously, and learned more than 200 ball-handling tricks using up to 10 basketballs simultaneously. Since then, I have set eleven Guinness World Records, and added another 300 tricks.

INSPIRATION FOR THE BOOKLET

When I started my ball-handling workout in 1994, I maintained a journal for each day of practice. I recorded how I felt after practice, my frustrations, milestones, injuries, and anything else that affected my progress directly or indirectly. I took time off after hitting a plateau while working on dribbling five basketball. When you hit a plateau, your body reaches a certain point (threshold) where your progress stagnate or level off. No matter how hard you practice, you will not notice any positive progress for a while. During the break, I read books on how to deal with and overcome the phenomenon, however, one gave me a good solution to overcome my problem. I was frustrated because I felt like it took me a shorter time to learn how to dribble four basketballs as compared to five basketballs.

After three months of serious practice, I was no better than when I started. One evening, I decided to try and understand my stagnation by comparing my practice journals from dribbling four and five basketballs. I was very surprised to notice similar trends throughout the journals. My blood pressure was always high due to stress and frustrations from long hours of practice, injuries, and outright failure to attain my daily goals. At any given time, I had at least one sprained finger. My shoulders, arms, back, neck, and feet muscles hurt all the time. I had headaches from practicing outdoors in the Arizona heat. At one point, my hands became so dry, they started cracking from dribbling basketballs all day. I had to use lotion on both occasions to soothe them before going to bed.

Further reading revealed that I hit the plateau just about the same time in both occasion. Subconsciously, I continued practicing long enough to learn, master, and perfect dribbling four basketballs because I wanted the record so bad. I also noticed that the plateau effect was followed by a major break-through in mastering four basketballs dribbling. These findings encouraged me to resume practice with renewed energy. I understood that I had to endure the same pains, hassles, and frustrations to succeed with every new skill. I also realized that I have to give every new skill or situation a chance to develop a character before deciding to keep or discard it.

I, just like many other athletes, unknowingly used Success Secret through Practice strategies when learning to dribble four basketballs. Hitting a plateau while practicing how to dribbling five basketballs led me to uncover the secret to success through practice. Since then, I have used the strategies to set eleven Guinness World Records. I am no longer afraid or get frustrated when facing new challenges because I understand what it takes to succeed through practice. If you have the right program, have faith, are persistent, patience, and work hard, it's only a matter of time before you succeed.

Looking back at my athletic progress, I do not see any other way through which I could have attained my goal of becoming the world's greatest basketball dribbler is such a short time. You too can use these strategies to attain any goal you desire if you make a firm commitment and work hard. Success secret strategies are not limited to basketball. They can be applied to any sports that requires developed skills like football, baseball, track and field, etc.

There are good lucks and charms behind almost everything that we do in life. However, to succeed with your endeavors, we must put ourselves in the best position to take advantage of the good lucks and charms if they ever come our way. Success Secret through Practice is the idea vehicle that you need to get you in the right position.

Former British Prime Minister and author Benjamin Disraeli once said, "The secret to success is for a man to be ready for his opportunity when it comes."

I think he had Success Secret through Practice was in his mind when he made the statement. Are you in the best position to take advantage of your opportunities?



To learn more about how Coach Odhiambo can come to your school or site and conduct a 45 minutes clinic, click on Reach Us. If there is one single thing that you can do to help your players not only to understand what it takes to succeed in practice, but to succeed in life, is order this one of a kind program. We all know what we need to do to succeed in our endeavors, however, when you look around, you see only a few people have actually succeeded. I have discovered the secret and you can have it by emailing me at othiz@yahoo.com or calling (480) 834-7840. This will be the most important thing that you do for yourself, your players or program.