5 Investing Fundamentals I Learned in Basketball Camp

I remember the summer between 7th and 8th grade. I was an awkward pre-teen who had already bested 5’9” and my parents put me in basketball camp (obviously, right?!?).

Until then, when I played, I probably looked more like I was having a panic attack than actually playing the game of basketball. I was constantly changing direction and strategy, passing the ball wildly and throwing the ball at the backboard without regard.

So when basketball camp started that summer, I was excited to learn the game. However, it became clear to me over those first few days that we were never actually going to play basketball.

Instead, we ran lines. We did shooting drills. We passed the ball overhand, underhand, and straight across the court. We learned defensive tactics, repeating extremely short moves time and again and again.

I was miserable.

For weeks this went on, I think I cried every day at least once.

I hated it. I hated basketball camp during those weeks.

But, toward the end of that summer, we started to scrimmage. And you know what? It felt like magic.

I knew what I was doing!

I didn’t feel awkward anymore.

I moved with power, confidence and ease.

When the coach called, “Box her out!” I knew what he meant!

And I could do it!

And I’d catch the rebound.

After those weeks of misery, I knew how to play the game of basketball.


Because I had learned the fundamentals.

And this principle is universal in complex topics. It isn’t until you learn the fundamentals that you can play and move with ease.

I often think of that summer, and that lesson, when I talk to people about investing.

When I speak in public, I nearly always get a bunch of questions from attendees about investing. The questions themselves are usually… all over the place.

Sometimes, the best answer to a question that communicates a lack of understanding of fundamentals is, “You’re asking the wrong questions.”

Investing is complex, and it is a science. And in order to experience clarity and confidence, you must know the fundamentals.

If you’re already a client of my firm, we spend time talking about the fundamentals of investing. I review recent and long-term history with you, and help you to make sense of the barrage of media messages versus best practices for long-term planning.

We talk about the cognitive biases we human beings are subject to, and how misperceptions brought about by hindsight bias, recency bias, and over-confidence impact our perception of events.

I don’t use (much) Wall Street Speak. My intention is to be a consistent voice of reason, because, over time, that builds trust and confidence.

If you don’t yet have a trusted advisor, and you are in or are entering the investing phase of life, you likely feel confused, overwhelmed, or even completely stopped when it comes to successful investment strategies.

Like me so many years ago, you might find yourself changing direction and strategy, and throwing things at the wall to see what sticks.

After all, there’s no shortage of financial advice out there, but there is a serious shortage of real wisdom and consistently positive results.