Basketball may be played on a full court, but your skills can make or break your game. Kyle Travis shares his top tips for getting better as a player.
Basketball skills trainer and founder of ICAN Player Development, Kyle Travis has been playing the sport since he was five years old and has been training players for up to four years now. Based in San Francisco, The GAME got the chance to sit down with Kyle during the Manila leg of his Southeast Asia Tour, where he has been traveling around the region, spreading his knowledge and skills on the game he loves most.
As a trainer, and through ICAN Player Development, he works with players who want to develop their skills — from ball handling and shooting to footwork and on-court IQ.
Here are five tips from the skills trainer that you should be paying mind to as an athlete.
It’s as simple as one word, but it is not always as easy to apply: Focus.
In his experience working with basketball players of all ages, Kyle Travis shares that one thing that makes an athlete coachable is their ability to focus. This is true in any field, and it should be heavily applied in a game that could be as technical as basketball.
“It’s in their eyes,” he says. “If I’m talking, I encourage players to just hold a basketball, because when they start to bounce or play around, you can tell their minds are wandering off.”
As a player, court time is court time. By focusing on what is in front of you, you’ll be able to grow by absorbing the lessons you are dedicating your energy to, and every practice session will be that much more productive for your growth.
2. Strengthen yourself mentally
Even with hours, days, weeks, or months of practice, Kyle Travis emphasizes that mental preparation is another aspect that every player should work on. “Playing comes down to two things. First, you have preparation. You have to work hard, prepare, train smart, and take care of your body. That’s the whole preparation side of things.
“Then, you have the mentality side, which is basically, you becoming who you think you are. You can put all the work in, but at the end of the day, if you tell yourself that you are still not good enough, then you won’t be.”
To the basketball trainer, every athlete is the sum of what they think of and believe about themselves. So in order to become the best possible player you can be, preparation is one thing, but toughening up your mind is equally as important.
3. Utilize your resources
When Kyle Travis was a kid, he would absorb as much basketball content as he could by renting VHS tapes from his local library. But now, with the advent of social media, he acknowledges the unlimited resources at the tips of our fingers. In his experience as a trainer, Travis has seen how social media can help a player grow immensely.
On platforms such as Instagram and YouTube, there is an influx of motivational content, skills content, and training content. And when these are used as learning resources, they can be very beneficial for any player out there.
But, he also acknowledged that on social media, “You really have to have thick skin. As long as you focus on yourself and avoid comparing yourself to others on social media, then it can provide a lot of motivation and learning.”
4. Never stop learning
As a player and as a trainer, Kyle makes sure he stays up to date with the latest in the sport. “With the pop of social media, I was able to network, stay updated with what’s going on, what’s trending,” he says. Basketball, like all sports, is ever-changing, so Kyle Travis believes in the value of staying open-minded. “Always be a sponge. Every single one of us can learn something from somebody.”
Just by acknowledging that the game of basketball is always going to evolve, you already open yourself up to developing, no matter what stage in your career you’re at.
5. It’s never too late
Finally, Kyle Travis tells us that as a coach, he has seen that it is never too late to start.
While he trains a lot of kids who are just getting into the sport, he also trains older demographics as well, from teenagers to NBA players. And from his experience, he believes, “You’re never too old to find a passion.”
When he trains kids who are as young as four years old, he also shares that rather than pushing a lot of skills development, his main focus is just to let the kids have fun and develop a passion and love for the game.
So, whether you are just now getting into the sport, kicking up a new routine, or testing out a brand new skill, it’s important to remember that it’s never too late to find the passion for what you’re doing.
Images from Kyle Travis on Instagram.