Perhaps the simplest, most important attribute you can have a player is to be reliable. It sounds pretty basic, but it’s true. As a coach I want to know what I’m going to get. Regardless of what level player you are – whether you are a starter and a star or a practice player who hardly gets the horn – I just want to know what I’m going to get. That allows me a comfort level in preparing and coaching the team.
I’m always talking to my teams about being able to “count on you.” Can we count on you? If we can’t count on you to show up on time, to give a great effort every day – to be reliable – we certainly aren’t going to count on you to win tough games on the road. One of the most important things you can do as a teammate is to prove you can be counted on.
The best way to show you are reliable starts with being honest with yourself. Evaluate what you are really good at. Not what you want to be good at or what you are working on. What are you really good at right now that can help your team? Make an honest assessment of yourself. After that it’s simple. Take the things you are good at, and do them a lot. If you are a quick guard and a great on the ball defender, hawk the ball for 94 feet and impact the game that way. If you are a strong physical rebounder, go to the glass on both ends every time the ball goes up. If you are a big time shooter, find open space and be ready to catch and shoot.
There are a lot of players out there who lose value (and minutes) by trying to prove they can do things they aren’t good at. They shoot quick 3s in transition when they aren’t great shooters. They handle the ball in transition when they aren’t a great handler. Once you start to do things you aren’t good at, you become unreliable. You are doing things that won’t help your team.
If you come off the bench as a great defender and rebounder, who provides energy and a spark to the team, do that every day in practice. It’s okay to average 6 points and 4 rebounds a game, and you can still be very valuable to your team. But as a coach, I want to know I’m going to get that energy, that level of defense and those 6 points and 4 rebounds every day.
Once you become reliable and I know I can count on you, I know I can win with you.