Stepping up off-court support to players
Most youngsters who have held a basketball in their hands have at least dared imagine what it would be like to become a star, they may picture themselves making that buzzer beater or getting the crowd off their seats with a spectacular dunk. But those sportsmen and women who do actually make it big quickly realize that what happens off the court is a very important part of managing their professional careers.
FIBA’s efforts to increase player awareness of some of the key off-court issues have resulted in two publications, the Athletes Handbook (The Guide to Off-Court Development) and the Athletes Financial Handbook. Both publications aim to provide professional athletes with a reliable and trustworthy source of basic advice specifically tailored to the needs of sports professionals.
Athletes Guide to Off-Court Development
Winning at Your Own Game
This guide takes four fundamental on-court parameters – team, skills, rules and game plan – and applies them to off-court situations, for an easy to understand entry level guide to managing a career in basketball.
One of the main ideas behind this comparative approach is to illustrate that many of the keys to success on the court can be easily applied off the court, contributing towards a management of the athletes career that is just as important, but that can have a tendency to be neglected.
Every player is aware of the importance of working together with teammates, his coaches and medical staff. If no player can make it alone on the court, the same applies off the court. Teamwork includes working with FIBA, agents, media and sponsors, which is essential if a player is to maximise his professional and financial opportunities. Working alongside other stakeholders can also help demonstrate the values of the sport in a positive way, which is not only a moral responsibility, but also an beneficial career move for the athlete.
Players spend large amounts of time working on improving their fundamentals, their technique and their skills.
In the same way, improving and developing communication skills, presentation skills and general professionalism is essential if a player is to make a positive impression on those who can impact their careers in the short and long-term.
For professional basketball players, knowing how to play by the rules off-the-court is just as important as knowing those that govern the game from jump-ball to buzzer.
Living with and adjusting to new cultures is more important than ever today, when careers often involve moving from one country to another and travelling from continent to continent.
Managing conflict off-the-court and avoiding unnecessary obstacles that distract players from performing on-the-court are also part of the daily lives of players.
To succeed as a team and an individual, having a pre-defined plan in place before taking to the court is an essential dimension to basketball as with all sports. Similarly, having the right plan in place for managing each step of their career, including life after retirement, deserves a little thought and consideration. Players should set long-term career goals and decide the necessary steps to achieve them (e.g. education, training, etc.).
To set up the right game plan requires a large number of parameters to be taken into account. An important of these include financial considerations, which can be hard to understand and yet have very important consequences.
The Athletes Financial Handbook
The second of these two publications specifically addresses these economic questions that sports professionals need to be aware of. With players signing increasingly lucrative contracts at an earlier and earlier age, FIBA has identified the need to help them evaluate their financial situation and plan ahead in order to secure a prosperous career and a solid future. This brief document, packed with useful advice, introduces many of the key aspects of planning for and working towards a healthy financial situation, keeping in mind the principal and unavoidable specificity of an athlete’s career; that it is shorter than almost all other career paths.
Issues addressed in this document include:
- The specificities of an athlete’s career
- Who to turn to and who to trust
- Which questions to ask
- Setting clear financial goals
- Budgeting and estimating one’s net worth
- Avoiding the temptations of overspending
- Helping one’s money work for itself
- Looking beyond one’s playing days
It also includes a glossary of basic terms and working sheets intended to serve as tools for a controlled approach to financial planning.
While not a comprehensive guide providing ready-made solutions or answers to all questions a sportsman or woman may have, the Athletes Financial Handbook is primarily designed to create awareness of the principal issues that they may face, in the hope of steering them in the right direction so that they seek help and advice from the people best placed to give it.
Taking the time to read the Athletes Financial Handbook and the Athletes Guide to Off-Court Development, which address many of the issues that can easily escape the mind of athletes in a language that can be understood by all, could prove the first steps towards making some of the wisest decisions a professional basketball player makes in his career.
At FIBA we feel that we have a responsibility in supporting our athletes not only to strive for greatness on the court, but also in assisting them beyond the boundaries of play. These two documents are the newest of a series of tools, which are designed to give players the peace of mind off the court that will allow them to do what they do best; play basketball. Both publications are available on FIBA.com. If no player can make it alone on the court, the same applies off the court.