Dedication to Your Game: Why It's Necessary

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My goal has always been to create an extraordinary environment for elite level basketball players to improve their sport-specific athleticism. I want to create an environment where dedicated players work hard but have fun as well; and to make sure I fulfill my goal, I work hard to stay on the cutting edge of basketball-specific training methods, techniques and equipment.

Dedication and commitment are essential for success in any endeavor, but especially in basketball. The game is so unbelievably competitive right now that if you aren't dedicated, you won't make it. That goes for every player, from high school to the NBA.

Most novices take for granted how incredibly dedicated NBA players are. Many of these guys are up early in the morning for individual skill work, come in mid-day for strength and conditioning workouts, go off to another individual skill session and then play pick-up at night. They do this five or six days a week. That is dedication!

On the topic of dedication, a powerful quote comes to mind, that was shared with me by legendary Coach Don Meyer:

"There are two kinds of pains in life. The pain of discipline and the pain of regret. Take your pick."

Everything in life, whether shopping for a new TV or chasing your dream of playing in the NBA, comes down to three simple questions:

  1. What exactly do you want? (answer: play college/pro basketball)
  2. What does it cost? (answer: time, effort, consistency)
  3. Are you willing to pay the price? (answer: make sacrifices, be focused and dedicated)

Coach Meyer once heard that Tiger Woods, during his prime, used to make 100 nine-foot putts in a row to end every practice. That is 100 consecutive putts! If he missed his 92nd putt, he started over! That is dedication.

I figure an appropriate equivalent for basketball players is free throws. Are you dedicated enough to end every workout with five, 10, 20 or 100 consecutive free throws?

Another example of dedication is what's known as the NBA "early bus." Two buses head to the arena before every NBA road game, the first three hours early, the second an hour and half early. Those who travel on the early bus are usually rookies, guys fighting for playing time and guys on 10-day contracts—the ones who need to put in extra work. They head over early to get up shots, work on their ball handling and sometimes even lift weights. These guys are dedicated to getting better every day. Legend has it that NBA superstar Tim Duncan continued to take the early bus every game, even after his legacy and superstardom were solidified. The Spurs organization took notice, saying, "If our best player can take the early bus, then everyone can take the early bus." Needless to say, the Spurs now have only one bus to away games!

Truly devoted players understand that dedication isn't a sometime thing, it's an all-the-time thing. You cannot be "kind of dedicated." You are either dedicated or you're not—there is no in between. So the question is, are you dedicated?

Feel free to email me at if I can ever be of service.


Alan Stein is the owner of Stronger Team and the head strength and conditioning coach for the nationally-renowned Nike Elite DeMatha Catholic High School boy's basketball program. A performance consultant for Nike Basketball as well as the head conditioning coach for the annual McDonald's All-American game, the Jordan Brand Classic and the Nike Summer Skills Academies, Stein is also a camp coach at the prestigious NBA Players Association's Top 100 Camp and the Chris Paul CP3 Elite Backcourt Camp. You can follow Stein at, and

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