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The 5 Percent Rule for Improving Your Game

  • Author:
    By Blair O'Donovan
  • Date:
    Jan 15, 2015

Here is a great way to motivate and improve yourself and your team this basketball season:

Pick an area of weakness in your game. Maybe your ball handling? Conditioning level? Shooting mechanics? Core strength? Diet?

Devote 5 percent of your energy towards improving your weakness every day.

This concept is powerful for a few reasons. One, it doesn’t take much time to devote 5 percent. So it is reasonable. Two, the compound effect is extraordinary. By getting a little bit better every day, the days start to turn into weeks and the weeks into months. Over time the results are profound! Same can be said for your team. If every member of your team, players and coaches, can improve their weakness by 5 percent every!

The game of basketball can be decided by a single turnover or a missed box out or free throw. So having every player and coach on your team making daily improvements is integral to success. The 5 percent rule can be used anytime, anywhere, and with any age. Keep yourself and your teammates accountable by keeping a journal of your "5 percent." Write in it every night. Not a diary, just a few notes on what you did to get better that day. Challenge yourself to keep it for one month and then re-evaluate your progress after 30 days.


Admitted weakness: I need to improve my shooting percentage in games.

What to do: Are you getting extra game-specific shots (game shots from game spots at game speeds) before and/or after practice? Are you charting your additional shooting work (to monitor improvement)? With a focused, purposeful effort, you can get a ton of quality work accomplished if you spend just 15-20 minutes working on your shot before and/or after practice.

One simple, very time efficient drill my good friend, legendary Coach Rob Beveridge (Head Coach of Perth Wildcats of the NBL Australia) uses is to have one player shooting, one player rebounding and track how many shots you can make in five minutes (shooting within your range and shooting shots you take in games). You can each go twice before and/or after practice (great for conditioning too!). Coach Beveridge has specific goal numbers for each of his players and uses this as motivation to get better all year long and to hold them accountable.

Admitted weakness: I need to improve my strength during the season.

Most high school-aged players know the importance of strength training and conditioning during the offseason and preseason. But very few make it a priority during the season. What a mistake!

Most NBA teams require their players to get in 10 strength workouts per month during the season. If they don't, they are fined $5,000 for each workout they don't get in. And these guys play 3-4 times per week!

It is very reasonable to devote 20-30 minutes, 2-3 times per week to improving your strength during the season (as well as maintaining the strength you worked so hard to build before the season started!).

So now ask yourself, “What is my 5 percent? What am I going to commit to today? What am I going to focus on improving for the next 30 days?"

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