Lessons From Layshia: How to Be Great

So, what are you doing for the off season?

Sitting on the floor on the sideline of an empty gym with the hum of the overhead lights, I’m overcome with gratitude for this beautiful game. The way the outside light shines through the windows onto the floor, the nets perfectly still. Peace. Quiet. The humming is comforting. The way it’s all woven into the fabric of my life.

I love basketball. The game is transcendent.

I’ve played basketball since I was 5 years old. Up until the last year or so, I never went more than a week without practicing, playing, shooting, dribbling.

I love basketball. The game is transcendent. I’ll be lifting and find myself watching people dribbling the ball with their headphones on. I wonder, “Are they practicing for something?” Sometimes, it’s a high school kid working out or maybe middle school and other times it appears to be a kid who simply loves the game. What especially excites me is seeing people lined up along the walls waiting to get next in the pick up games. All levels, sometimes a girl – old, young. This sport is all encompassing.

The 2015 WNBA season ended in October. The 2016 season camp starts in April. That’s 6 months. I have a ton of goals I want to accomplish. Get stronger, be more dynamic; improve my shooting, fine-tune this or that – a whole list of things.

I began this off-season by taking the month of November completely off from basketball. My body and mind greatly appreciated the rest. After, I was yearning to get back to work. I was even hungrier.

That leaves me 5 months, or 150 days.

It takes the little things every single day; the things that propel us from average or good to exceptional. Great is different for everyone.

When you look at a goal in terms of the big picture it can seem daunting. You run the risk of starting out the first few weeks or month of your workouts with a spur of energy and determination, but finish without direction. What does it really take to accomplish a large goal? – A microscopic view. Anyone can throw out goals. You can write them down or make a vision board. But what does it take to be great?

It takes the little things every single day; the things that propel us from average or good to exceptional. Great is different for everyone. In terms of basketball, you could measure greatness as the best player in the world, or the MVP of the league, or All-Star appearances or with stats. For me, being great is waking up every single day and being great. Living intentionally. Demanding the same attention to detail and energy of yourself in a shot workout on a Monday as you would in game 5 of the playoffs.

Lifting weights alone is my toughest challenge. Those days where I’m tired and achy or I just don’t want to go to work are constant character challenges. I have to ask myself, “Will you go half ass today? Or kill this workout? Will you be great today?” There’s that voice in your head that tells you no one is watching, just take the day off. I have these internal battles. I have tough basketball days too, but it’s a little easier because I usually have my trainer putting me through very specific workouts. But still, how do I approach the days where he intentionally throws me bad passes or is a little more physical with me; when I’m fatigued and it’s the end of the week. How do I respond?

Being great is waking up and foam rolling every morning. It’s going to yoga at 7:30pm on a Wednesday, especially when I really don’t want to. It’s meal prepping on Sunday night so I can fit my 6 meals a day in that week. It’s tediously warming up and doing my rehab exercises every time before I lift a weight or shoot a basketball. Being great is being great every single day. When that’s how you operate, the sky’s the limit.

I don’t write down my big goals. To be honest, I try not to think about them. Instead, I operate in a way that puts me in the right positions to succeed. I string together a series of small things, over and over, everyday and one day you look up and all your big goals are right there, paved with work.