Know the difference between fake hustle and good hustle in basketball

Kawhi Leonard Hustle Basketball

Not all hustle is good hustle. There’s a fine line that separates good hustle from what I like to call fake hustle. It’s very easy to get those two things misconstrued but it’s very important as a player and as a fan to understand where the two part ways.

Hustle is defined as (via Merriam-Webster):

“To obtain by energy activity.”

When you correlate that to the game of basketball, it’s all about playing hard and providing great effort consistently to win. That sounds like something that every player should do but it’s a rare trait. Hustling goes a long way with coaches and scouts who are looking for talent. When you think about diving for loose balls, taking charges, sprinting back on defense, or running to contest shots, those are all hustle and game-winning plays. Plays that show a desire to win and passion for the game.

While you have those good aspects of hustling in basketball, there are other plays that are a detriment to the player as well as the team. They are forms of laziness and clouds of deception where players think they are tricking the spectators but true fans of basketball know what they’re doing. It’s a form of fake hustle to create the delusion that they are hustling when in fact they’re cheating themselves and their teammates. Plays like unnecessary reaching, cheap fouls, gambling, or flopping are just a few examples of fake hustle plays. They either contribute to fouls or open shots for the opponent. It’s a form of basketball that’s truly avoidable which in return hurts your own team.

These type of plays often occur because of fatigue or frustration. But in these moments, you have to avoid these mental lapses at all causes. A cheap foul can lead to an and-one for the opponent and change the entire momentum of a game. Keep that in mind, especially if you’re a young player trying to get recruited. You may have a thought of ‘oh I can gamble for this ball but if I don’t get it, at least I hustled‘. When in fact, recruiters look right through that and add that as a con in your game.

The results of fake hustle never pan in your favor. The transparency that comes with it can portray your game in a bad light. It’s key to understand the difference between the two so that you don’t mistake fake hustle for good hustle.


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