From as far back as I can remember sports were my passion. More specifically, basketball was my passion. I loved being a kid and letting my imagination run wild. Day after day I would go out to my driveway and beat the best players in the world in epic one-on-one battles. Those blacktop wins pushed me towards the beginning of basketball obsession. This obsession continued to push me throughout high school and into the early stages of my college career.
Every coach is concerned with how coachable an athlete is. How concerned should a player be with a coach’s coach-ability? I think it ought to be crucial to you, even if from a purely selfish standpoint. If you happen to love your coach, love listening to his pep talks and philosophies, and want to do everything your coach says in the best possible way, you are lucky and will probably be able to listen attentively and flatteringly and do your best effortlessly. But what if you don’t like your coach?
Coaches, have you ever paused for a moment or taken the time to reflect on the balance you’re keeping between your family and coaching? I know that can be a tough question to ask yourself, but there may not be a more important one to consider. I challenge each of us to take a timeout today. A timeout to pause and reflect on our own lives. As we take this timeout, there are three basic steps that we must honestly contemplate in order to evaluate our coaching/family balance.
End-of-game nervousness doesn’t seem to cause more bad plays than occur any other time in the game, it simply gets more attention. In other words, don’t beat yourself up or consider yourself a choker just because you happen to lose a lead sometime.
THINK THE GAME
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Slumps happen. They are as inexplicable as they are inevitable. Often we have no idea how they happen or why they stop, and usually it seems to be outside of our control. For me, it happened in one of the most important games I ever played in college. It was our conference championship game, and if we won, we would earn a berth in the national tournament.
For all the complaining that players are apt to do about not getting the ball enough, one of the biggest faults of most players is their failure to come to the ball against pressure. “Hiding” is more relaxing, and that is what players tend to do. They get 25-40 feet from the ball, and they stand there waiting for it to be thrown. Sometimes, they even wave their arms and frown, but whether they know it or not, they are hiding.
In 2002 I chose to transfer from my first college to the University of Alberta, a team I thought could win the National Championship. The U of A had won it all the previous year, and I wanted to win badly. I knew they were returning all five starters, but I believed in my skills and my work ethic. I knew I could break into the starting line up.
When you are guarding a stronger player, especially when he has the ball, how do you combat his pivots and his movement to the basket? How do you stay close to him and apply pressure without getting an apparently accidental elbow in your eye? It can be very difficult to apply pressure and hold your ground unless you can protect yourself in the process. Protecting yourself is the key ingredient, because no player is permitted to make contact intentionally. Intentional contact will result in a foul and a turnover, so a strong player who uses his strength merely to run over you or push you is of no particular concern. He is a poor player and will soon be out of the game. The problem is with the good player with strength, more strength than you.