The off-season, or the "on-season" as Coach Kevin Eastman likes to call it, is a time to improve and develop your craft. I'm sure you've heard the saying, "if you're not practicing, someone else is, and when you meet him, he will win." Knowing this as a competitor drives you to work hard and push yourself as far as you can physically. You spend countless hours in the gym honing your skills and you flourish in the weight room. You come into the season thinking you're prepared to rise up to the challenge, but did you really do all that you could to become the best player you can be?
I THINK NOT
LeBron James just won his third NBA World Championship and while he puts in tons of hours in the gym, he also does something that sets him apart. He reads books. A lot of books. It's a well documented fact that LeBron is a student of the game and obviously knows his stuff when it comes to the history of basketball. He's commonly seen on the sidelines with a book in hand and has also been known to read books in the locker room before games. Not only does he read sports books such as West by West by Jerry West, but he also dives in to other genres of books such as The Hunger Games, or the Divergent Series. When asked why he reads books, LeBron said, "Because it strengthens my mind." When it comes to superstar athletes reading books to improve their ability, he is not alone. Here are three reasons why you should read more books if you insist on becoming the best you can be at your craft.
INCREASE IQ & BOOST BRAIN POWER
It's no secret that the best athletes are able to process and react to various game situations quickly. They are smart and understand what needs to be done and how it needs to be done. Science has proven that reading books improves your memory and keeps your mind sharper for longer. Would you agree that as fatigue sets in & you need to execute the scouting report at the end of a game, you rely on a sharp mind and good memory? You bet! Give yourself an advantage over the competition in these areas by reading books regularly.
BECOME BETTER AT BUILDING RELATIONSHIPS
Every leader knows the importance of relating to people. Reading books naturally allows you to experience the world from other people's perspectives. As you create a vision and motivate your teammates to embrace the journey, your ability to empathize with them will determine how far you go. By reading books, you will develop an understanding of how to build relationships and relate better with your team.
IMPROVE YOUR COMMUNICATION SKILLS
Communication is one of the most essential skills in any sport. The best players and leaders are also some of the best communicators. As you read books you will be exposed to a variety of words and in turn, will increase your vocabulary. You will learn how to construct sentences and thoughts in a powerful and effective manner; a well sought after skill in any position. If you want to convey a message to your team, on or off the court, your ability to communicate is extremely important. Reading will naturally improve these skills.
In conclusion, I ask you this question:
WHAT BOOKS ARE YOU READING TO DEVELOP YOUR CRAFT?
If you need some help, here are a few recommendations that I would suggest you pick up ASAP!
Toughness by Jay Bilas
Wooden by John Wooden
Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell
Talent is Never Enough by John Maxwell
Training Camp by Jon Gordon
I also have several books that I recommend on the "Bookshelf" on coachwingreen.com. Check it out!
Photos: Nathaniel S. Butler/NBA/Getty Images