My Personal Story
At the age of 8, in my hometown of Leverkusen, Germany, I started my journey in the basketball world. At this age, there was no competition in practices yet. It was all about fun. A few years later, around age 12, I was playing with older guys and during practice, I would get my ass kicked.
Playing against fourteen-year-old kids who were in better shape and more athletic, I just could not keep up. On game days, found myself riding the bench consistently. A few games into the season, my coach pulled me aside and suggested that I go down a league and play with kids that were my age. I followed her advice because I realized that I was not able to play alongside these guys yet; partly because of the age difference but also because I was just not good enough physically. After starting to practice with the younger team, I fit in better.
Around the age of 14, I received my first piece of advice on nutrition. I was told to avoid carbohydrates at night so that my body would take the energy it needed over night from my fat stores. As a result, I ate plain yoghurt with fruits every night and it seemed to help slowly but surely. With that nutritional change, my successes on the court improved as well. I made the under 16 bundesliga team called JBBL, the highest team I could play on at my age and embodied a major role. During this time, I added strength training to my routine. I started to lift weights two to three times a week. I engaged in it slowly because I was afraid that lifting weights would harm my joints or muscles. Later on, I found out that weight lifting actually has the opposite effect. Lifting weights in a controlled and systematic manner helps to protect your joints and strengthens your muscles to be able to do more.
In the next two years, until I reached the under 19 bundesliga team called NBBL, I increased my weight lifting volume to four times per week. I barely made the cut to get on the under 19 league team. Now, since all boys around my age had their major growth spurts, height became an issue, as I was undersized to play the power forward position.
Continuously, I tried to eat as healthy as I could. At the time that meant cereal for breakfast, carbohydrates like pasta during the day, and then some type of salad or veggies at night. Additionally, I lifted weights four times a week, which was extra work going along with the four team practices I had. On the weekends, it would be gameday. During that time, the notion of trying to outwork people started to appear. I realized that there were certain facts I could not change: my height and my athletic talent. These were two biologically engendered traits and I couldn’t rely on these to compete. I was never going to have the height of the ideal power forward nor did I have the greatest athleticism but I did have control over my work ethic. I had the ability to make sure I outworked my competition and became as strong as possible and as athletic as possible to make up for what I was lacking biologically.
With that mindset, I made it to the finals of the German Championship for the under 19 league while also playing in the second league professionally. Since I had graduated from high school, my plan was to continue my academic career while playing basketball. The perfect location to do that was in the United States. That is why I tried to get a scholarship. However, the same problem started to appear. Most colleges did not want to sign me because I was a little undersized (6’7” instead of 6’8”) and not athletic enough.
Luckily, Fordham University in the Bronx, New York gave me a shot, even though they were not expecting much. Towards the end of my college career there, I was told they didn’t expect me to have a big impact. However, due to my work ethic and commitment to getting better, I had an immediate impact. I became a freshman starter who made the All- Rookie Team, just falling short of becoming Rookie of the Year. The two following years, I continued to start for Fordham and made a name for myself in the Atlantic 10 conference as well as at Fordham, by finishing in the top 10 of Fordham’s all time made three-point field goals list as well as cracking the magical 1000 career point milestone. After graduating at the end of my junior year with a Bachelor of Science in Psychology, I decided to transfer universities for my final year of eligibility.
My school of choice was Boise State University in Boise, Idaho. Here, I really took another step in terms of developing my body. Weight lifting and workouts were as intense as they ever had been, I had a close relationship with my coaches, especially my strength coach and I studied Kinesiology. We finished the year second overall and qualified for the National Invitational Tournament. I finished my Master of Science in Kinesiology, Behavioral Science in one and a half years and throughout that process continued to develop a greater interest in understanding the science behind nutrition and weight lifting.
Now, I am a professional basketball player in my home country Germany who played his rookie season with the Basketball Löwen Braunschweig in the easycredit BBL (the first league in Germany) and is currently playing for Brose Bamberg in the easycredit BBL.I have played on the under 18, under 20 and A2 national team and competed in two games with the Olympic national team. Being a professional athlete, and having chunks of free time between practices, I have increased my volume of books and articles that I read. I started reading books about sleep because I felt how helpful it has been for me ever since I started to apply certain principles. Changing my nutrition, my exercises habits as well as my sleep habits have helped me to achieve certain goals that other people told me I could never achieve.
I was told I could not play for the national team. I was told I was not athletic enough for the collegiate level. I was told I was too short to compete internationally. I was told I could, if I get lucky, I would play in the second league but should focus on getting an ‘actual’ job. However, things turned out differently. I played for almost all national teams that I could have played on. I am a 1400-point scorer on mid-major level colleges, and I play in the top league in Germany. I am absolutely convinced that I was able to achieve these goals because I met a lot of great people that helped and supported me along the way but also because I doubled down my commitment on the aspects that help improve performance, namely nutrition, exercise and sleep.
I started to realize that emphasizing these aspects of life and making the most out of them, will help people to improve their life immensely. The last thing that I havce added to my repertoir of things that I do to improve my performance is that I started to engage in mindset activities, read about leadership and creating a culture of trust as well as using meditation and mindfulness exercises to remain in the present and to stop worrying about the past or the future. These aspects built upon what I had learned in my psychology undergrad as well as in my kinesiology grad classes.
This website here is starting what I want to do after my professional career is over. For one, I want to help athlete to really max out their talent and reach their ultimate limit and performance level. I think that to achieve that, athletes need to be coaches and held accountable in areas such as sleep, nutrition, movement, mental strategies and also mindfulness. I believe this because if we do not have someone who holds us accountable, then we will not get to the highest level. A workout with a coach will also be better and more intense compared to one without a coach. The same goes for creating new habits around sleep, movements, mindfulness and other mental skills. But I do not want to help athletes. The beauty of these parts of life is that they affect everybody the same way. We all need a healthy diet, a good amount of movement during the day, some meditiation or mindfulness time as well as a good night of sleep. Just changes in one of these areas will improve your energy levels and help you be better at work, better in your family environment, better at you side hustle or be better on the court.
I do not claim that I have all the answers but I will claim that I am constantly looking to improve and read new science that comes up within any of these fields. I want to create a platform through which I can spread my knowledge and build a resume about how I improve performance. Hopefully, through that process I will be able to create a community and help people improve their performance in any area of life.