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The 5 Keys to Fully Maximize Your Talent

by J.P. Clark, Boston Celtics, Assistant Skill Development

“I don’t want to be any good.”

“I am not interested in becoming the best I can become.”

“I want to be mediocre.”

Have you ever heard any of the above statements spoken from an aspiring player? The answer to that question is most likely no. These statements are never spoken, ever. You see, as players, really as humans, we all have an innate desire to be great; to become special. Deep down, we all want to live to our greatest potential; to become the best we can become. The question is how do we fully maximize our talents? How do we live to our full potential? Today, I am going to share with you The 5 Keys to Fully Maximize Your Talent.

Each one of us has been blessed with our own unique gifts and talents from God. Everyone of us has a special talent. These gifts and talents are what separates us as individuals. Each of our talents and gifts are different, but deep down, we are all the same. We would all like to live to our greatest potential and become the best we can become.

The reason I have selected this topic is because I have seen so many instances in which player X was not able to fully maximize his/her talent. I have seen this happen in high school, college, the NBADL, and most recently in the NBA. I will address the problem with a couple of suggestions that I have learned and observed from working with some of the best players and coaches in the world.

I know how much players want to excel in their specific sports. I know we all want to maximize our God-given talents and reach our highest potential. My hope is that this article gives you some direction in your quest of becoming the best player that you can become. My why in writing this article is simple, it’s to help you perform at your highest level in hopes of helping you reach your greatest potential as a player.

I will share with you some of the most valuable lessons that I have learned in hopes of helping you maximize every ounce of your athletic potential.

I will start off by saying, when it comes to fully maximizing your talent, of course having raw talent can help. Clearly, if you have been blessed with great athleticism, size and strength, you will have an advantage over your competition. However, being able to fully maximize your potential as a player has very little to do with your initial level of raw talent. Raw talent is nice, but there are countless stories of players with incredible potential who do not amount to much because of their lack of a work ethic, character issues, and their lack of discipline. The Talent Code Author Daniel Coyle sums it up perfectly, “Talent is determined far less by our genes and far more by our actions.”

Here are the 5 Keys to Maximizing All of Your Talent:

1. The Best Athletes Have a Well Defined “WHY”

The best players have a specific purpose. A personal mission statement. The best players know who they are and they know exactly what they want. The best players have a clear vision and have already set up their goals to make their dreams a reality. The best know WHY they play the game. The best know why they get out of bed every morning. Simon Sinek is the author of the book, “Start with WHY,” he commented in his book, “People who come to work with a clear sense of WHY are less prone to giving up after a few failures because they understand the greater cause.” Or as author Jon Gordon commented “Our purpose is our ultimate guidance system that provides us with direction for our lives. Purpose fuels us with passion, and this passion gives us confidence and vitality to go after our dreams.”  The best athletes know their WHY!

2. The Best Athletes Have a Plan of Action

Once you know your personal WHY, then the only question you have to ask is, HOW? How will I achieve my goals? How will I live up to my WHY? How will I go from good to great? The best athletes understand that whatever got them here will not get them to where their hopes/aspirations are. The best athletes come up with a detailed plan of how they will improve upon their strengths and weaknesses in order to achieve their goals. Remember, great ideas without a plan is delusion. Just like in a real game, we have to be able to execute the game plan to be successful! We must have a detailed game plan mapping out our road to success. The best have their goals written down and a plan of action to achieve them!

3. The Best Athletes Outwork the Competition

When you talk of work ethic, the perfect player example is one of our players, the ultimate competitor, Kevin Garnett. Kevin is fanatical about his daily routine, shooting the same shots from the same spots with the same movements every single day. As you can imagine, KG works extremely hard at all times. There are no days off, no plays off and certainly no practices off. The stories of KG during shoot around breaking a full sweat are widespread, but what people do not realize is it’s every single shoot around he’s in a full sweat. Tape/no tape, it doesn’t matter, 10 minutes, 20 minutes, it doesn’t matter. To KG, shootarounds are games and he must get himself in the exact positions and coverage situations that he will find himself in that night. And to do this realistically, KG must go game speed and this is how he treats every practice, every shoot around and every walk through. Coach Doc Rivers commented on KG when he first got to Boston, “You knew (Garnett) has great intensity. You didn’t know he had it full time on and off the floor. His intensity in shootarounds and practices spread to our entire team. Our shootarounds were phenomenal. They listened to every word. There was no talking. They were focused. That was all from Kevin Garnett and that changed our team.”  The best athletes outwork the competition.

4. The Best Athletes Believe in Themselves

This is the most important of the keys. The best athletes believe in themselves. They expect to go out and perform. “The best believe in themselves. I have a determination where I don’t think anybody I line up against, on any given night, will be able to out-will me, I just refuse to believe that,” said Kobe Bryant. The best athletes have a disciplined mind that allows them to believe in themselves even as negativity begins to set in. The best athletes believe in themselves by guarding their minds. The best athletes understand that by controlling your thoughts, you control your life. By controlling your life, everything in your life is simplified. By simplifying your life, you allow yourself to devote 100% focus to becoming the best player you can become. Remember as Henry Ford said, “Whether you think you can or think you can’t, you’re right.” We must make the conscious choice to believe in ourselves! The best athletes believe in themselves.

5. The Best Understand They Can’t do it Alone – Become Lifelong Learners

The best athletes know they can’t reach their full potential alone. The best know they will need constant help along the way. One of my favorite phrases from Coach Rivers is, “If you want to go fast go alone, if you want to go far go together.” The best players understand the value of seeking wisdom and direction from their mentors. The best submit to a life of lifelong learning, understanding they never will truly arrive. The best understand greatness is a lifelong mission. Maximizing your talent is about striving to become the best you that you can be. To be the best, you must fully commit to being a lifelong learner. The best understand they can’t do it alone. 

Remember, life will throw you a few curveballs along the journey. The key is to view life as an adventure. View setbacks as opportunities to learn and grow. Your  purpose must be greater than your challenges. Instead of focusing on your problems, focus on your purpose. See yourself as a hero in your journey and enjoy the process. Strive each and everyday to stretch yourself and grow. Spend time on your WHY, Plan out your action plan, believe in yourself and work as hard you can. Good luck!

This past season, J.P. served in a dual role with the Boston Celtics and their D-League affiliate, the Maine Red Claws. J.P. worked in player development with the Celtics and served as an Assistant Coach with the Red Claws. Prior to his time in Boston/Maine, JP spent both the 2009-10, 2010-11 seasons at the University of Central Florida serving as both a GA and also as the Assistant Director of Basketball Operations. Before UCF, J.P. spent the 2008-09 season as the Volunteer Director of Basketball Operations at Colgate University. J.P. started his coaching career off during the 2007-08 season as a student assistant at his alma mater, Flagler College.

He can be contacted at and followed on Twitter at @coachjpclark



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about rick torbett

Rick Torbett has taught thousands of coaches to win more games through his innovative approach to the game. He has created powerful training for coaches at any level so they can coach their best and win more games.

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