One of the dilemmas facing high school and middle school players this time of year involves listening to all the "voices" that surround them each and every time they walk into a gym.
For example, let's say a freshman walks into the gym for an afternoon practice in preparation for school summer league.
The varsity coach running practice explains how to execute a skill that is completely different from the way the Freshman or Junior Varsity coach explained it last season.
To make things even worse, that same skill was taught and practiced the night before during the player's club team workout in a way that was totally different from the other two methods.
One skill but three completely different ways to execute it has the player's head just swimming in confusion.
When he goes home and discusses the situation with his parents, his father or mother (or both) who played high school basketball in the 80's offers yet a fourth "best way" to perform that particular skill.
Not knowing what to do, the player then calls his individual skills coach, his older brother, his girlfriend, his seventh grade coach, his Uncle Bob and whoever else he can think of in order to get their opinion on the subject. Of course their opinions range from the obvious to the ridiculous and the player becomes definitely worse off now than he was before he even went to practice.
If that scenario doesn't sound at least a little bit familiar then you probably haven't been playing basketball very long or very seriously.
Even though the solution to this dilemma is not always easy, it is simple. Just play in the present and listen to your coach. Not your parents, your uncle, your girlfriend, etc. Your coach.
Which coach? The one who is coaching you at that moment. When you're with your high school team listen to your high school coach. When you're with your club team listen to your club coach.
Why? Because those coaches decide who plays and who doesn't on their respective teams and if you don't do it their way you might end up not doing it at all!
While basketball, and especially skill development, is often referred to as a game of habit it is also a game of adjustments. Teams and individuals who can adjust and adapt to their surroundings more easily than their opponents can are going to ultimately see more success than those who insist on always doing what their "other" coach says. (Bonus word of advice: No coach at any level is ever happy to hear a player say, "Well my other coach says I should do it this way.")
If your club coach wants direct passes made into the post and your high school coach wants bounce passes thrown into the post, so what? Listen to them and do what they want to the very best of your ability. What is your college coach going to want? You don't know right now? Exactly!
Look at this time of year as an opportunity to learn and perfect different techniques so if and when you need them someday you'll have them at your disposal.
The next time you step on to the court and your head becomes flooded with various voices, take a moment and consciously tune them all out except the one that matters. In other words, listen to your coach!