No injury is truly crippling unless you let it cripple your mind. When you get an injury, try to see the big picture. Forget the woe-is-me attitude, and don’t worry that your plans are suddenly ruined. Get complete information from medical experts so you know exactly what you are dealing with, and then do what they say. Often, it seems the only thing you can do is be patient and wait.
In response to an error, Hustle-CAT is a good term to remember and a good thing to do. In all the continuous team sports like basketball, soccer, volleyball, and hockey—and sometimes in baseball and football as well—a player will make a mistake and have the opportunity immediately either to compound the mistake or to correct it. If your error immobilizes you while you pause to demonstrate your anguish or anger, you compound your error.
Common sense might seem to tell you that great plays are what make the difference between a good player and a mediocre player. But most coaches would disagree. More often, they would say, great plays—or the attempts to make great plays—are what make good players mediocre.
Players shouldn’t be shy about asking for the ball. The “He’s a ball hog” theory is correct a lot less often than the “He just didn’t see you that time” theory; all too often the problem is that you didn’t look very open. No one should expect to get the ball even half of the times he is open. You should expect something more like one out of ten. Therefore, you should put a definite plan into effect that can help you get the ball more often.
THINK THE GAME
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Fleet means quick-moving, and here it is also a made-up word for “FLoored feEET.” Feet on the floor, on defense. Never leave your feet on defense, not even to block a pass, not even to block a shot. For every pass you block by jumping, two will get by you, and you will be slow getting to a good defensive help-position because you are not FLEET when you are in the air. You have to wait until you come down to move.
Mediocre players use this time to rest, to complain, to limp, to frown at referees, to look around at the crowd. The problem is that many talented players use the time when the clock is stopped for the same purposes. But there is an endless number of valuable things a good player can do while the clock is stopped if he is thinking and really trying to be as much of an asset to his team as he possibly can.
All sorts of things always go wrong. Big deal. We know that. That’s the given in the athletic algebra. The only unknown is you. It is apparently human nature to blame someone or something for failures and inadequacies. Typically, almost everyone blames the president or the governor or the mayor or the principal or the boss or the teacher…for whatever may have gone wrong. Athletes and fans, for the most part, do little to lift themselves beyond this phenomenon of “scapegoatism.” It’s always someone else’s fault, never yours.
I disagree with coaches who claim that defense is the number one ingredient in winning games. I have no doubt that the most important ingredients are offensive ones. You could have a terrific defense, but if you lose the ball before getting a shot, your opponent will often have the opportunity to score against no defenders on a fast break before your great defense has a chance to form. (Most teams can be stopped nearly half the time if you just manage to get all your players standing in the lane with their hands up. I’m all for defense, but you just can’t pretend it’s as important as offense.)