Keifer Sykes’ Training Mentality: “Win The Day”

Keifer Sykes’ ability to find success in the game of basketball has always been doubted. He’s constantly been bombarded with reasons why he wouldn’t be able to make it his entire career.

Keifer Sykes Training


“My whole life a lot of people told me I was too small. Too small to play high school basketball. Too small to play varsity basketball. They always told me to have a plan B. Be ready to work a job and pay attention in school. My talent in basketball doesn’t mean anything. It wouldn’t go far. They told me I couldn’t finish at the basket. They told me I couldn’t shoot. They told me I was too small, not strong enough to defend. I’ve heard it all.”
Keifer Sykes
PG, Korea

Sykes proved his doubters wrong. Despite being overlooked out of high school in his hometown of Chicago, the 5-foot-11 point guard went on to star at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay, becoming a two-time conference player of the year and a two-time honorable mention All-American. Sykes spent last season in the D-League, where he led his team to the conference finals thanks to a 31-point performance in the conference semi-finals. He will spend this upcoming season in the Korean Basketball League.

Keifer Sykes Training

Sykes has repeatedly proved he belongs on the court alongside some of the best players in the world, but it’s what he does off the court that has helped him get there. As an undersized player, Sykes has had to work hard in the weight room and on the practice court to make up for his lack of size.

Keifer Sykes Training


“My mentality walking into the weight room – no matter if it’s five in the morning, the afternoon, late night or the evening – is just win the day."
Keifer Sykes
PG, Korea

“I never want to let the workout beat me. I’m one of those guys who takes pride in it. A lot of people have thrown up in workouts or couldn’t finish workouts. A guy like me, I like to win the day no matter what the workout plan is, no matter what the workout schedule is, no matter what time I go in there. I focus and maximize my effort in the weight room.”


It’s that mentality that has helped Sykes exceed expectations over and over again. His weight room routine emphasizes speed and balance, allowing him to blow by his initial defender and finish strong at the rim, despite bigger defenders trying to knock him off balance. His focus goes beyond the weight room, as he also practices yoga to strengthen his core and increase his balance. Sykes’ ferocious work ethic got him where he is today, and he plans to continue working until he reaches basketball’s pinnacle.

“Now that I’m a professional, it’s all about trying to be one of the top 1500 guys in the world and being able to have that focus on every single detail from the ground up,” Sykes said.


Sykes has always been motivated by his doubters. Their words helped fuel his fire on the court and in the weight room. While doubters are a major motivator, Sykes is also inspired by those who are closest to him. His family is the real reason why he works as hard as he does.

“I signed up for this for my family,” he said. “I have to sacrifice my fun. Sacrifice a lot of time with my friends. Sacrifice pretty much everything to work hard – first of all for myself, my family, my father and mother, my brothers and sisters – putting in the hours for them to enjoy seeing me play and to represent my family with my name on my back. It’s definitely a hard grind, but it’s something that all of us athletes appreciate, and we hope that everyone else understands the amount of work, the amount of time that we put into our bodies, and the separation from all of the things that we love.”



BIL Look Back Featured

Trae Young, LiAngelo Ball, Collin Sexton: A Look Back At The 2017 Ballislife All-American Game

Top recruits like Trae Young, LiAngelo Ball, Collin Sexton, and Jaylen Hands tore up the 2017 Ballislife All-American Game. Read more:

TW Awards Featured

Eastbay End-Of-Season Twitter Awards

With the 2018 playoffs tipping off, we thought we’d take a look back at some of those random moments from throughout the season that blew up Twitter.

The AAU Sullivan Award: Another Winner Will Be Crowned

On April 17, the 88th AAU Sullivan Award winner will be announced. This prestigious award is the perfect way to recognize the players who entertain, inspire, and motivate us the most.

Vote Now: AAU Sullivan Award Semi-Finals

Voting is now open for the 2018 AAU Sullivan Award — this is your chance to decide who is the best amateur athlete in America!

Boris Berian Featured

The Secret Behind Boris Berian’s Speed

What does it take to be the best? Talent isn’t enough. Elite coaching isn’t enough. The strictest training isn’t enough. Boris Berian has the secret.

Live At New Balance Nationals

We are live at the 2018 New Balance Nationals Indoor where the most talented high school track athletes in the nation are squaring off. Tune in here for daily updates.

Jamia Fields Training Featured

Training Tips From Pro Soccer Player Jamia Fields

Jamia Fields hasn't become a pro soccer player overnight, it's taken years of hard work. Get some training tips from the rising star.

Lauryn Williams Featured

Ask An Expert: Lauryn Williams

Want to make history on the global stage? Then you’ve got to out-train your competition. Just ask record-breaking sprinter and bobsledder Lauryn Williams. Read her story:

Sofia Huerta Featured

Sofia Huerta: Striving to Be Her Best

Eastbay cover star Sofia Huerta is more than a soccer player — she constantly strives to be her best, on and off the field.

A Recap Of LA: What Kicks Did Basketball’s Best Rock?

What were the best kicks worn in Los Angeles while the game's top players took to the court? Langston Galloway and Nightwing2303 break it all down.

EKF8 Malakai Featured

Create Your Legacy: Malakai Lewars + James Harden

Eastbay cover athlete Malakai Lewars is focused on creating his own legacy. That doesn’t mean he can’t steal some pointers from some of the game’s greatest players like James Harden, though.

James Harden On All-Star Weekend In LA, Harden Vol. 2, And More!

He's having an MVP-level season and is dropping his second signature shoe, the adidas Harden Vol. 2s — check out our Q&A with Houston star James Harden.

See More