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The importance of creativity in becoming a strong basketball player

“You can never solve a problem on the level on which it was created.” 
― Albert Einstein

Creativity is usually a word connected to the arts rather than sports yet creativity is a necessary tool to become the best basketball player and the person you want to be. Creativity is defined as the ability to transcend traditional ideas, patterns or modes of thinking and create new meaningful ideas or patterns.  At NBC Camps we see creativity as the energy to look at life with vitality, an inquisitive mind and the desire to be a problem solver.  Lack of creativity is dangerous because it keeps us in ruts, in patterns of helplessness and viewpoints of hopelessness.  Creativity on the court, as well as off is a mindset and a choice that begins each day with the decision to view the challenges of the day with curiosity instead of frustration.

Creativity on the Basketball Court

A high school basketball coach and NBC Camps advocate from a smaller school in Montana had a team of all white farm and town boys. None of the parents could jump, none of the boys could jump. This coach had a deep admiration for the artistry of basketball. He believed basketball to be one of the most artistic sports on the planet. Inspired by the legendary creative talents of Darryl Dawkins, aka "Chocolate Thunder" who shattered two backboards in NBA games, this coach went to find a jump training program for his team.  He found the Cuban Olympic Volleyball team had an intensive vertical program using plyometrics.  He had specialized depth boxes built at various heights and set them around the gym.  Every practice for four years, his farm boys worked on their vertical jump.  There are typically only a handful of dunkers in the entire state of Montana.  The result of this coach’s creative practice plan?  Out of the 10 athletes who started the program, 8 could dunk well, 5 could do reverse dunks and many had verticals over 40 inches.  Plus, their team won the state championship—twice. 

Creativity seeks for new ways to solve problems. 

Part of the rut that American athletes are in, is that they spend their creative energy trying to find the new drill, the new program, the new....  Once the coach decided on his training plan, he stayed with it-- every practice for four years. Instead of using his creativity to continue to seek additional innovative jumping programs, he used his creativity to keep his team motivated.

Do you have the ability to get creative on your motivation and will to follow through? Chances are you don't need a new drill, you just need the creativity to problem solve working relentlessly on the drills you already have.

How to Improve your Creativity

Creativity is considered a mind skill which can be improved with intentional effort.  Here are a few ways to improve your creativity.

1. Be teachable. Research on creative potential shows people with higher levels of openness and lower levels of self-consciousness have more creativity.  Being teachable is an attitude of being open to what is being taught and eliminating ego or self-conscious focus.  

2. Improve your critical thinking. Some people don't realize that creativity requires critical thinking and the ability to seek solutions to problems. Critical thinking is a discipline to acknowledge first impressions and assumptions, recognize cliches and ruts of habit, and to systematically explore possible solutions.

3. Work and rest your brain. Being creative requires energy. Creative thinking happens in your frontal cortex and is negatively impacted by depression or anxiety.  TV and computer games also impair frontal cortex energy levels.  Rest and allow your brain downtime from a stimulus. Give yourself time to consider the problem from different angles. 

4. Curiosity vs Frustration. The difference between the creative and the unimaginative is curiosity. Next time you become frustrated on or off the court, stop and become a detective. Ask why.   Work hard to probe and put energy toward possible alternative outcomes. Get curious rather than frustrated.

About NBC Basketball Camps

NBC Basketball Camps are built on a deep love for great basketball teaching, enthusiasm, hard work, generosity of spirit and servant leadership. If you love basketball enough to work hard and you believe in the importance of mindset not just physical skills, you want you at NBC Basketball Camps. Since 1971, we have been training the whole athlete. Our mission is to help every camper walk out a stronger player and a better person.  If you want to sign autographs, go to a different camp. If you want to be the best person you were designed to be, come to NBC.  Find out more about our program at

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