The NBA is the pinnacle of the Basketball world. It has the biggest teams, the biggest stars and no other league in the world can really compete with the monetary power it wields. But only a select few ever make it to the big time. Only a few can be classed in that top bracket with the likes of Michael Jordan, LeBron James, and the recently departed Kobe Bryant.
For young fans growing up watching their favorite players pulling off an alley-oop or slam dunking a ball into the net, what does it take to get there? A lot of blood, sweat, and tears is the short answer. The closest many will come to playing ball in the NBA, is by checking out video games such as NBA 2K21.
Research conducted by InspirationalBasketball.com actually worked out the odds of young players making it professionally. 1 in 31 12th Grade players make it to the NCAA, and of those who make it in the NCAA, 1 in 365 players make it to the NBA. Those odds increase even further for 12th Graders who go straight to the NBA with only 1 in 3249 making it.
For those determined enough though, here are a few ideas of what you have to be willing to do to go pro.
As you can imagine with any professional sport, there is a lot of training involved, and it is a lot of hard work. Because not only do players train from match-to-match during the season, players also train during the off-season too.
Off-season for those unaware is the time between one season ending, and the next one beginning. And whilst most people will think that players just then go on a break to enjoy themselves, they’d be very wrong. Many players, especially the greats, will train to get themselves ready for the upcoming campaign. Pushing themselves to become better and better all the time.
Of course many NBA stars will have more downtime than they’re used to, and their regimes will be less strict, but you’ll find many of them working on numerous key areas.
- Yoga – For balance and core strength
- Weights – To help build muscle, tone the body and work on strength
- Plyometrics – Working on agility, strength and body awareness
- Boxing – Great for cardio and strength
- Hooping – Practicing playing basketball to keep skills sharp and fresh
As the season starts, many NBA players will still do a lot of the above, but the intensity gets ramped up. And on top of that, they will be training for each upcoming game that they have during the season, in the hope to win their conference and go to the play-offs to be crowned the best of the best in the NBA.
For training during the season, it will vary slightly. They’ll have off day work, and game day work. Off days will see them go through conditioning training, gym work and some hooping. With things like therapies for any injuries and watching game footage to analyze performances in between. This can go on for as many as 13 hours a day, with breaks for lunch and dinner in between.
Gameday training tends to be a little lighter. NBA players will usually wake up earlier to get training in because the evenings will be taken by actual matches and the build-up around them. They’ll still do everything they would on an off day, just not as much of the conditioning and gym work, and more focusing on things like shooting and skills before the match. This can often be interrupted due to games being on TV, as players may be required to do interviews as well which can eat up valuable time.
All in all, professional NBA players can easily put in 50-60 hour weeks.
Self-control and determination
As well as the physical training, there is a lot to the mental side of being an NBA player too. You’ve got to believe you’re the best, you’ve got to be determined that you’re going to make it. You need the self-control to stick to strict routines, follow proper diets and to remember to act accordingly at all times.
Things you may enjoy now as an adult, you can’t really do when you’re a baller in the NBA. For example, you can’t be eating takeaways every night, never going to the gym and spending a lot of your time in bars getting drunk. You also can’t be checking out the latest NBA picks to place bets on games, because it’s a conflict of interest that could potentially have an impact on the outcome, which comes under match fixing.
Another part of the reason you have to have self-control is because if you go pro, you’re going to be a role model for millions around the world. Whether you want to be or not. You’re also a representation of your team franchise and its fans. And if you make a mistake, if you say or do the wrong thing, it can have terrible consequences for NBA Players.
Quite often, many players fall short of making the NBA because of these reasons. Take Last Chance U Basketball for example; a Netflix documentary that follows a community college basketball team full of players who were ex-division 1 players, who were great prospects at some of the top colleges across America. But for one reason or another, they all fell into some sort of trouble, and playing at community college level was their last chance to try and make it.
You see a lot of those young players lacking that self-control, lacking the determination. Often at times self-sabotaging and preventing themselves from making it to the NBA. Is it because they don’t care? Is it because they’re scared of rejection? Only they will know, but it shows how big a part the mental side of things can play when it comes to going pro in the NBA.
It isn’t an easy path. It isn’t something everyone will be able to do. But becoming an NBA Player is possible. It’s just a case of being prepared both physically and mentally to put in the time and the effort to make it. Because, as you can see, it takes a lot to become the best.