Are you focused or have you become distracted?

By Jason Stewart

Recently, parents of one of my beloved students shared with me some off-season goals their son had in his summer plans. One goal was to put on weight to compete with players at the next level. This is the goal of many high school athletes.

So I asked, “What activities will he be doing in the summer?” They went on to tell me how their son is lifting weights, doing personal workouts and small group workouts and playing at least five games per week almost every weekend for the entire summer with his travel club basketball team.

“WHAT!?!” Red Flag!

Personal and small group workouts are excellent. Basketball is a “touch” sport, meaning that you should never go long without touching the ball, crafting your skills.

Lifting weights is exactly what this young man needs to do. Basketball players don’t need to be as big as football players, but you shouldn’t look like a string bean either. If you need to put on weight, then you should be lifting some.

Playing five games every weekend for most of the summer means that he is playing 40 plus games in the “off” season. That’s almost double what high school kids play during their season!! That doesn’t include the practices that go with it! If he is not gaining weight during the season with a 25-game schedule, how is he going to gain weight with a 40-game schedule?

A doctor friend of mine once explained to me in part how the body works with regard to athletes and weight gain. He told me that when the athlete is working out, the metabolism starts to speed up. The body starts burning energy. It searches its resources starting with whatever is in the stomach. After it burns whatever was eaten, it begins to burn fat. Once it is done with the fat, it then starts to eat the muscle!!

So, if you are fairly lean to begin with, you can’t expect to gain weight when you’re running so much. I explained that it would be wise for the parents’ son to be selective about which tournaments he is going to attend. I suggested that he concentrate his efforts on personal skills with occasional pick-up games only to test a newly crafted skill.

Others may not believe this, but I’m a firm believer that stretching and sleeping in late for junior high and high school students produce the best results for any growing potential that player has.

What am I saying? “Be a couch potato when it is appropriate.”

I agree that players need exposure to higher levels of play found in travel basketball. However, if money is an obstacle for your family, higher levels of play can be found at recreation centers. In North County San Diego many players go to LA Fitness. Lord knows I couldn’t afford club basketball growing up, but I would travel 45 minutes to an hour away to find the competition I needed in Los Angeles. Guess what? I played Division I basketball at Arizona at six feet tall. Rough pick-up basketball, where there is no referee, produces grit and
perseverance that is rarely developed when wearing a jersey.

I will say again, if your desire is to play college basketball, you should be a part of a travel team that is going to major tournaments where college coaches will be watching.

The point here is that this particular player and his parents were so “busy” doing basketball that they were not thinking about how it was ultimately altering their son’s goals. They were distracted by the rush of the crowd that says “do this” and “do that.”

We all need to pause and give thought to the activities that produce the desired results we need.

At work as adults, some of us get caught in the same riptide of distraction. We get busy, but not always busy doing activities that produce results necessary for ultimate success.

I want to encourage all of you to think about how to get from point A to point B using a straight line. Remember that your line might look different from the next person’s. That’s OK, because we are not all made the same way.

Don’t get distracted–get the job done.

Jason Stewart can be reached through his website at or by email at