Every one of us has been stuck in a rut before. Whether you get writers' block or can't hit a jump shot, you usually make, to save your life playing basketball like me, we've all been there. Finding your groove isn't easy.
Stuck in a rut
No matter what you're good at or what your calling is, chances are you couldn't produce as efficiently at your craft as you could other times. At times, finding your groove is extremely difficult, even when you perform well at something. For example, I've played basketball since I was seven years old. Since that time, I've gotten pretty good at the sport. I always had a natural ability to shoot, and over the years, expanded my game tenfold, adding an arsenal of capabilities including dribbling, passing, and finishing at the rim. Yet, it always seemed no matter how bad a day I was having handling the ball, passing, or finishing, I would still be in a groove shooting and became reliant on it.
For me, my jump shot was the great equalizer. No matter how poor I was playing, I always felt I could hit a shot at any given time because it's just simply what I was best and most consistent in doing. Yet, over the past three-plus years, my shot hasn't quite been the same. Why? Well, I attribute it to several things.
Years ago, I was only working part-time and hadn't even started college yet. What did that mean? Much more time to play the game I love. I showed up and was consistent. I probably played five times a week, if not more. Not to mention, a few years before that, I was in high school and played nearly every single day, sometimes twice a day, training with my best friend.
You see, right after I graduated, my best friend and I had all the time in the world. No more school and hardly any responsibilities, as we were both still living at home. So we played basketball every day. We wanted to improve our games and felt we finally had the time to do so. So what did we do? We went to work. We would wake up at 4:00 in the morning and go to the gym across the street from where I lived. It opened at 5:00 AM, and we'd be standing outside waiting for the worker to open the doors. As soon as they did, we got in the gym, and our training commenced. We completed drill after drill and played until about 7:30 AM. Around 8:00 AM, many guys would show up to play pick up games before they went to work.
We were fresh out of high school, and these guys were grown men, so they gave us some competition. However, we trained so hard every day and remained consistent, which resulted in us showing up and showing out. Monday through Friday, we obliterated our opponents. Even when we lost, my best friend and I still had good games, scoring nearly half of our team's points every time. Most of the time, we played on the same team and won, though.
What made us so good was our persistence. Because we'd play pick up games until about 9:30 AM and then, at about 10:00 AM, we'd drive down the street to eat breakfast at McDonald's. I know it was counterintuitive to our workouts, but we didn't know any better. After we ate, we'd go right back to the gym at about 11:00 AM and play the rest of the day until about 3:00 PM.
All of our hard work and dedication paid off. I can recall two times throughout my basketball playing days where I was at my best; this was one of those times. Our consistency and resilience worked wonders for our respective games. My best friend got better at shooting and finishing, and I got better at dribbling, passing, and finishing. Honestly, it was one of the best times of my life because I had no worries other than who I would play basketball against that day. More than anything, it was fun and helped build the bond me and my best friend still have to this day.
However, not too long after those glory days, my best friend joined the military, and everything quickly changed. I started playing basketball less and less because he wasn't around to push and encourage me. You see, we fed off of each other. We made each other better. Whatever he was good at, I wanted to get better at, and vice versa. I wouldn't have been the player I was without him, and I am sure he would say the same. My best friend leaving wasn't the only factor, either. At the time, I was 20 years old with no job. My parents told me I had to get one if I wanted to continue to live with them.
Finally, I landed a job and worked about 30 hours a week. What did that mean? Well, naturally, less time for basketball. Then, a couple of years later, I decided to attend college. Taking college classes and working took up much of my time. I still played basketball 3 or 4 days a week and was pretty efficient on the court. I started training hard again. I finally grew into my body, lost some baby fat, began lifting weights, felt stronger than ever, and played like it. It's the other peak I mentioned in regards to me playing at my best.
Then, it all came crashing down again. I worked part-time for a few years, but I wanted to live on my own. I wanted to forge my own path and felt my parents had helped me for far too long. I felt the only way to genuinely grow, blossom, and flourish into the man I wanted to be by moving out. So I got another job, working full time between the two, and went to school. Not to mention, I started to create my first website, which resulted in virtually no time for basketball. I didn't have hours on end to give to the sport I loved anymore. Fast forward another two years, and I traded in my two part-time jobs for a full-time job, all while still going to college, taking anywhere from two to four classes during any given semester, and creating another website.
After creating Align, I only played once a week. I was so inspired to create something unique like Align, that I had no choice but to choose it over basketball. You see, I love and will always love basketball, but I knew it wasn't going to get me to where I wanted to be in life. Basketball filled many voids throughout my youth; the game was always there for me. But it couldn't pay the bills, and ultimately, I wanted to grow in ways outside of it, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.
Over the past few years, I've told myself basketball will always have a special place in my heart. But recently, that hasn't been good enough. Watching myself become a shell of the player I once was didn't sit well with me. My production on the court decreased dramatically, and I couldn't even hit a jump shot, which I relied on for so many years when all else was going wrong with my game. I couldn't do the one thing I was always good at, and it hurt.
I am nearly done with college now, only have a few semesters left, am working remotely from home, and have been consistent in my writing. All of this has given me time, more time to think about how I've relegated to watching more basketball than playing it. I've questioned myself and wondered where my heart is. At such a young age, did I give up too early on consistently playing the game I love just because I was busy? Sure, I am no spring chicken anymore, but I know I still have plenty of years left to give.
Most importantly, I've missed it. I've missed basketball, the competition, pushing myself to see how good I can be, and seeing my hard work pay off in games. I am only one person and can only do so much. But what comes with a little extra free time and inspiration? Opportunity. For me, it means the opportunity and intrigue to see if I could get back to where I was playing-wise before I had no time. There will be highs and lows, hills and valleys, and, ultimately, fluctuations in life. But it's what you do during those times and your ability to bounce back that benefits you in the long run.
So what have I been doing? Well, let's just say I've started training again three days a week, and feel myself getting back into a groove. I've been putting in the work and time necessary to get better, although I know I am capable of much more. In less than a year, I'll be completely done with college, and with that will come more spare time to do what I love, play basketball. I plan on training more often and rigorously when that time comes, getting back to where I was, and ultimately playing productively in a local men's league again. I was stuck in a rut, but I am better because of it. I've learned never to give up along the way and am slowly and surely finding my groove, and you can too. All it takes is a little time, desire, will, and perseverance. Sprinkle these ingredients together, and you'll be well on your way.