The sports headlines frequently contain stories about athletes who have gone down
the wrong path. Over the years, I have counseled many athletes who have gotten into
trouble involving violence, drugs and alcohol abuse. Luckily, I was able to help some
of these people to get onto the right path.
I have also worked with some wonderful young people with super families who enjoy
sports and who have significantly benefited from their involvement with sports.
Last week, I had breakfast with an outstanding young man who attributes much of his
own development, maturation and success to his love of basketball, to his willingness
work hard and to his desire to learn everything he can to better himself and to
learn everything he can about the game that he loves.
Billy Armstrong, the founder of www.Hoopdreamz.org, has a fine basketball resume
which includes ten years of professional basketball and four years of Division I
basketball at Davidson College. He currently runs clinics, camps and leagues for young
basketball players in New Jersey.
Billy and I were sharing our thoughts and ideas about mental toughness, confidence,
relaxing under pressure and coaching young athletes. Billy, like me, is very interested
in psychology, sports, sport psychology and self-help. He claims to have a very large
collection of self-help books in his library. We spoke about John Wooden, Michael
Jordan and what makes basketball such a great game for the players and for the fans.
Billy is an energetic person who lights up when he talks about basketball and
about coaching kids. He realizes that only a few of the kids he coaches will play
college ball, but he is determined to teach them the value and importance of hard
work and dedication to the game.
Billy is now an outgoing fellow, but he explained that he was quite shy and
somewhat withdrawn when he was younger. When he was younger, he would
get quite nervous before a big game and would sometimes vomit in the
locker room prior to competing. I reminded him that these feelings and this kind of
physical reaction is not at all uncommon among serious athletes.
We also spent some time talking about competing abroad.
“Playing in Europe really helped me grow up. The first I went to Europe was
to play basketball. Learning different languages and being exposed to different
cultures was a super experience for me.”
“Playing basketball in different environments and in different countries helped
him to open his mind and develop his self-confidence.”
Billy and I spoke about what we do to help prepare kids for life on and off
the basketball court. In the future, we hope to collaborate on some seminars and clinics
where we can teach kids how take their minds, their bodies and their basketball games to
their fullest potential.
Sports, if approached in the right way, can do a great deal to help a young person
mature in a positive manner. Billy Armstrong is proof that this can happen. Kids
who work with him will find out how to perform better on and off the basketball court.
Jay P. Granat, Ph.D. is the Founder of www.StayInTheZone.com He can be reached
at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 888 580-ZONE.