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    By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail


    “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” – Benjamin Franklin

    Successful performance requires purposeful preparation. This is true in school, sports, business, and life. As an athlete, your preparation should be year-round, and include sport-specific skill development (for example, basketball ball-handling and shooting); strength and conditioning; and nutrition.

    Sport-Specific Skill Development

    The first step toward improvement is gaining an understanding of your strengths and weaknesses (I like to refer to them as “areas of opportunity”). If you have access to video footage of your games, watch it — video doesn’t lie. Sit down with your coach and have a discussion about what he or she thinks you do well and the areas in which you can improve. Your goal should be to become a better all-around (complete) player. The more you can contribute — on both sides of the ball — the greater your value to your team. You want to be an asset to your team when you’re on the field or court… not a liability. Don’t get caught up comparing yourself to teammates and/or opponents. Focus on self-improvement — be better today than you were yesterday.

    Strength and Conditioning

    Improvements in strength, speed, agility, and athleticism can only benefit you as an athlete. A strength and conditioning professional can help you develop a plan that is tailored to your needs and goals as an athlete. Your strength and conditioning plan should be periodized, with phases to address the off-season, pre-season, and in-season. Generally, as your sport-specific activity increases, your strength and conditioning activity should decrease (taper), and vice-versa. Your strength and conditioning plan should also be progressive, gradually increasing in intensity over time to ensure improvement. Don’t take the in-season phase off — it’s important to maintain what you’ve developed!


    Learn how to fuel your body for optimum performance. You can refer to several of my previous blog posts that discuss the importance of breakfast, pre- and post-workout nutrition, and sports performance nutrition. Don’t underestimate the impact proper nutrition can make — it can affect your metabolism, energy level, and mental focus.

    Goal Setting

    It’s important to set some challenging but attainable (realistic) goals. You’re probably not going to go from being a 50% free-throw shooter to an 80% shooter, overnight. It’s fine for your ultimate goal to be 80%, but set incremental goals along the way. Develop a plan (in writing) that incorporates lots of purposeful practice and repetition. Decide how you will measure success, then align your plan with — and channel your efforts toward — your goal.


    Steve Hare
    Steve Hare
    The creator and publisher of, Hare has covered high school sports in Northeast Ohio since 1997. He began as a correspondent for the Lake County News Herald, where he contributed until 2011, primarily covering high school football and wrestling. In 1999, Hare began writing for, a member of the network of high school and college sports web sites. He focuses on covering Notre Dame football recruiting. was created in 2004 and was a member of the network until 2012. The site's original purpose was to cover Ohio high school football and recruiting news but since has grown to cover all sports and to provide sports information services to high school athletic programs and individual teams. Hare attended Willoughby South High School through the middle of his senior year, then graduated from Berkshire High School in Burton in 1986. He played football, wrestled and was an all-Geauga county baseball player (1986). He lives in Chardon with his wife Paulette and their children.
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