This goes viral, and I get it, it’s funny. Here’s the problem, it is hurting our game and the popularity of vines showing people falling down, getting dunked on or otherwise getting embarrassed is actually causing young players to shy away from competition.
When a young athlete wakes up to Instagram, eats with Snapchat and falls asleep next to YouTube, their whole paradigm of what a basketball player is becomes what is captured in a loop of video. The hero is someone who can make others fall, a hero is someone who puts someone on a poster, and the loser … never be the loser who get’s made fail-famous in a video.
Just last week I saw this problem first hand as I was playing in a pick up game in Atlanta. When I got to the gym, I didn’t know anybody. When I got picked up, it was by the loudest, most intense trash talker in the gym. He looked at me and said, “You look like you can shoot, you’re on my team.” Now I didn’t know exactly what he meant by that. I didn’t know if that meant I didn’t look like I was athletic, or if he could just tell by the way I walk—but I decided to assume the latter.
Half way through the game my defender double-teamed my trash-talking teammate on the wing, leaving me wide open in the corner. He looked right at me, and continued to dribble trying to beat two defenders. He must have meant that I looked like I could shoot, but just not catch.
After 18 dribbles, head fakes, and gratuitous gyrations, he managed to get around the defenders and into the paint. Then, as he was falling out of bounds behind the backboard, he flung me the ball. Turns out not only could I catch, but I could shoot too. Bucket. As I ran back, I attempted to give him a high five and thank him for the tardy pass.
Unfortunately, I couldn’t get him to give me the time of day, let a alone a high five. My teammate was too busy jumping up and down in the face of his defender, “YOU GOT CROSSED, *#@!%,”he yelled, “all you *#$^@’s got crossed!” He was more excited about “crossing” someone than the bucket. I was incredulous.
To make things worse, the defenders didn’t even try to play offense. Instead, they bought into the debate. Play stopped so they could argue, but it wasn’t not about the score, a call, or whose ball it was.
“You didn’t cross me,” one claimed. “No one got crossed here. You’re crazy.” They continued to argue for five minutes on whether or not someone “got crossed.” They cared more about the “embarrassment” of getting crossed than winning the game. First I got angry, then I got sad, and eventually I left after one game.
This type of attitude and approach is hurting the game of basketball, and here’s why:
1. It Kills Competitiveness
When young players care about not being embarrassed, it does one thing more than anything else—it slows them down. They don’t do things like immediately diving on a ball, contesting a shot, battling defensively, trying to take a charge, or sprinting back to take away a breakaway. THEY DON’T COMPETE! I want players that will slip and fall, get dunked on, and are willing to get knocked over. Those players are competing with all their might. Only if you throw yourself completely into the game, and are willing to be foolish with your activity and effort, will you play the game the right way. Only if you fail to compete will you be made to look foolish. The fear of failure and being made to look foolish on a vine is paralyzing many young players.
2. It trains the wrong basketball skills
The most important things that players do on the court are not done with the ball. In fact the ability to move quickly to the right spot, help on defense, box out, run a lane, move the ball quickly, make the right decisions, execute an offensive scheme and talk on offense and defense NEVER make a highlight video. These things are not celebrated enough and therefore undervalued. They are the essence of the game and what we teach at PGC Basketball.
3. IT’S NOT ABOUT YOU
While most players are zoomed in while they play, they would be best served if they were to zoom out. Instead of thinking “What am I doing,” “How am I feeling,” or “How can I get my shot?”; the real impact players are zoomed out and focused on thoughts like “What does my team need,” “How can WE get the best shot,” and “who needs energy?”
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PGC Basketball provides intense, no-nonsense basketball training for players and coaches. Our basketball camps are designed to teach players of all positions to play smart basketball, be coaches on the court, and be leaders in practices, games and in everyday life.
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Our goal at PGC is to empower you with the tools to fulfill your basketball dreams, while also assisting you in experiencing the joy of the journey.