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10-Part Summer Checklist for the Motivated Player

Summer is known as the off-season to those who only know basketball as a winter sport. To this player, though, summer is a prime time to make great strides and improvement in many aspects of their game. Summer is simply the “time to get better.”

10-Part Summer Checklist for the Motivated Player:

1. With the input of your coach, create a summer workout schedule. Once written, it will become your tool for becoming a better basketball player this summer.

2. Concentrate on specific areas of your game. Instead of identifying “ball handling” as an area you need work on, focus on some specific areas of ball handling. For example, you could work on weak hand in the open court, dribbling against pressure, or driving into the paint against physical play. The results you get this summer on specific parts of your game will depend on whether you are able to identify them in the first place. ASK your coach to outline specific things for you to spend your time on.

3. Use open gym for individual or small group work. The idea of pick up basketball in the summer can make a coach ill. These games are nothing but the reinforcement of bad habits. Pass up those pick up games and say YES to focused individual work. The results will be incredible. Remember, you get out what you put in!

4. Enjoy your time away from school with hobbies and activities you enjoy. Fishing, hiking, camping, music, church groups and spending time with friends are good releases during the summer.

5. Identify with your teammates what you need to do as a team to maximize your next season. By bringing together the thoughts and ideas of all players, you can form a common goal and decide to become committed to it.

6. Study tapes of NCAA and NBA games to see how players execute at that level. Take these tips and apply them to your game. For example, how does a great shooter get open consistently over the course of a game? Identify these skills and try them out for yourself.

7. Spend time with your family during the summer. The school year is a hectic time for everyone, so use the summer to enjoy those loved ones around you. Tell them how much they mean to you by telling them and spending time with them.

8. Access your academic standing and the courses you are scheduled for in the fall. You may be considering your college choices or your major during the summer also. Determine fall testing dates for the ACT and SAT if your are college bound. If changes to your schedule need to be made, don’t wait to do it. Be preventative and get it done now. Also, the summer is a prime time to visit college campuses of your choice.

9. Summer is a time to re-connect with things that are at your core. This may be a hobby, your spirituality, or a particular belief of yours. Being young is the time you develop your thoughts and philosophies on many important parts of life.

10. Turn off the TV and head outside to shoot 100 jump shots!

Players can make tremendous improvements during the summer. Use these 10 points to become the player you really want to be.

Playing For Life – How to Keep a Child Engaged in Music Lessons From Early Childhood Through Teens

How many parents have given their children years of music lessons, only to have the child one day announce: “I quit!”

It can be heartbreaking for the parent, not least because of the thousands of dollars they may have invested in lessons and instruments.

But inevitably, years later, the former teen will say, “I never should have quit the violin (or cello or viola)! I wish my parents had forced me to stick with it!”

Being a music school director for the past ten years, and the parent of three (an 8-year-old, a teenager, and a former teen), I have seen this sort of thing happen again and again. So I have made it one of my primary missions to create an environment that keeps kids in music, from tot through teen years. Here are some of my most powerful techniques for keeping children involved in, and passionate about, their music.

1. Start them young – on piano. I have found that children who begin with piano, and then come into my violin or other stringed instrument class, always do better than children who have not had early piano training. Violin and other stringed instruments are difficult, due to the many aspects needed to focus on at once. It is also physically challenging. Piano is a lot easier to grasp for pre-k kids. Once the student already has a basic understanding of music, including note-reading, rhythm, and practicing, they are freer to focus on the technical challenges of the stringed instrument. I now require tots to take my beginning piano class, and i encourage parents to keep those lessons going until they begin in my violin class.

2. Don’t go it alone! How many parents enroll their children in private music lessons, only to have them refuse to go because they don’t know anyone? Yet the same child will participate in almost any activity if at least one friend is present! Group beginning music classes can be a lot of fun for the younger set, and particularly ideal for children age 3½ years through 5 ½, depending on their maturity.

3. Kids who play together like to play together! The more opportunities the children have to play the more they will improve. In addition to private lessons, as soon as the child is eligible, we place him or her in a performing group. At our school, graduates of our beginning violin class will enroll in private lessons and in our training orchestra. More advanced players go into our more advanced children’s orchestra. Older students are encouraged to join regional youth orchestras. Ninety-nine percent of the time, once the initial excitement of playing an instrument has passed, it is the group playing that the kids will remain excited about. Children love to be with other children! Participation leads to more practicing, especially if the conductor or musical director connects well with children.

In addition to private lessons and orchestra, many participate in our chamber music program. I started the chamber music program with four kindergarten girls who knew each other from orchestra. After a few months of playing together they named themselves the bff (‘best friends forever’) they have been playing together for 3 years by now. They’ve performed for our us congressman, senior centers, local schools, and even at our local farmer’s market. What I’ve discovered is that the kids in the quartet were developing faster and playing better, so i set out to form more groups and a chamber music program.

4. Keep em’ in the spotlight! It is rare that a kid doesn’t thrive from the envelopment of warm feelings, positive attention, and sense of accomplishment that they feel after a performance, (not to mention camaraderie with their fellow performers). Whether it’s performing in a studio recital, a solo competition; or with their youth orchestra at carnegie hall, performances are key to keeping up a child’s interest, and improving their playing. The vast majority of children who only do private lessons, and don’t have any performance opportunities, will eventually lose interest and drop out.

5. Stay positive! When in doubt, do not shout, berate, belittle, or threaten to drop the lessons. None of the negative stuff works, and it will just lead to more frustration for you, and your child. Even when it feels like your child is not meeting your or the teacher’s expectation, remain positive. Your child may just be going through a rough patch.

To get through it, with the little ones, offer small rewards for practicing daily or weekly. It could be a sticker or a trip to the toy store. In their teens, you can relax their practice schedule if it feels like too much of a burden. When my teen son decided that he wanted to quit saxophone, his teacher suggested that he just practice five minutes a day. He did this for over a year, continuing to participate in various orchestras and jazz groups. It worked! He continued playing saxophone through high school, and received a huge music scholarship to college. Although he has decided not to make music his career, he continues to make money with his instrument through teaching and gigging.

6. Summer and school breaks are a great time to move ahead! Rather than taking a break from music lessons, vacation is actually a great time to make headway. It’s an opportunity for life-changing musical adventures or just plain getting lots accomplished. Enroll your child in a summer music program that offers something different in the way of lessons and orchestra or chamber music. For teens, there are many programs away from home, in beautiful settings in the mountains or countryside. The more your child improves the more they will like playing, and the more they will feel good about themselves. It’s the child who lags behind who will want to stop practicing or worse, quit.

7. Don’t over schedule. Although we want our children to be well-rounded, it’s better for their psyche for them to excel in one thing. And if that one thing is playing a musical instrument, it will have tremendous benefits. Skill on a musical instrument sets them apart from their peers. They will begin to identify themselves as a musician, which is great for their self-esteem. Excelling at a musical instrument – especially strings – will help in applications for arts schools and programs, and eventually, colleges! Most colleges have orchestras with many chairs to fill. There is usually a need for many more violin, viola, cello and bass players!

8. Stay committed. Staying committed to your child’s music education may be the hardest part of raising your child, but i can say from first-hand experience, it’s worth the it! The experiences your child will have being a musician will shape their lives (not to mention their brains) in a way that cannot be duplicated any other way. Music promotes self-esteem, teamwork, and good study habits, and it has shaped the lives of many youngsters in a most profound way.

Taking all these steps will make it far more likely that your child will have lifelong appreciation for their instrument and for music.

High School Activities and Sports: 10 Dynamite Tips to Build College Application Resumes

As you start high school, plan activities and sports that will make you look your best to the college you eventually want to attend. If you have many talents and interests, be sure to keep your grades up, and achieve at high levels in your activities.

Starting in the 9th grade and working through the 12th grade, some of the special classes and activities that show you have special talents and abilities include:


Join the staff of the yearbook or the school newspaper staff. Enter writing and essay contests. Compose speeches for contests and debate tournaments.

Art, photography and Drama

Enroll in special design, drawing, painting, ceramic, and pottery classes. Act in school plays, musicals, and in community theaters. Work on the photo staff of the yearbook or the school newspaper. Publish in city or local newspapers. Win awards at local art shows and county fairs.


Participate in school orchestras, bands, choirs, madrigal groups, musicals, junior symphonies, summer music camps, music award competitions, and church choirs.


Join the radio, science, math and engineering clubs. Participate in regional and national math tournaments and science competitions and fairs. You can win prizes and awards. Subscribe to science magazines or read them at the library.


Be an active team player in the events you like best. Follow a regular training program to develop above average skills.


Join Future Farmers of America, FFA, or 4-H Clubs. Enter state and county fairs to gain awards, prizes, and recognition.

Home Economics

Work hard and compete for awards and prizes at county, state and national fairs. Offer to help a local business in your area of interest.

Technical Arts

Volunteer for experience at auto and body shops, metal shops, manufacturers, and engineering or architectural firms. Schools offer job training through Regional Occupational Programs, ROP, work experience, often for credit, or apprentice training programs.


Participate in Future Business Leaders of America, FBLA, Distributive Education Clubs of America, DECA, Junior Achievement, and Regional Occupational Programs. Try working in the Work Experience program or as a summer intern to see if you will really like a particular career.


Become an Eagle Scout, or join clubs such as Junior Statesman or Key Club. Apply to be a legislative page. Work for your senator, congressman, assemblyman, city councilman, or for local civic and charitable organizations.

Keep track of your high school courses and activities A scrap book for newspaper clippings and awards will give you a wonderful diary for your future life, and will help you fill out your resume your senior year.