More than a game
Basketball, or team sports in general, is more than just a game. It’s where we learn to win with grace and lose with pride. It’s where we learn to put others over ourselves. It’s where we pick up important life lessons.
Having been a basketball enthusiast for more than half my life and played in several competitions, here are some of my takeaways as I spent much of my youth trying to put the ball through the hoop.
It’s just simple math
It really is simple math as taught by the late great Kobe Bryant. Let’s just suppose everyone else trains twice a week, 2–3 hours per session. With that in mind, I train every single day for 2 hours. Now, what happens over the course of year? I would have put in 418 hours more work than my peers. Over 10 years? No way they are catching up.
That’s why reading, even if it’s just 10 minutes, is something I consider to be a non-negotiable part of my day, something I absolutely cannot miss. That’s because I know, 10 years down the road, there’s no way my peers are going to be able to catch up with me in terms of the amount of knowledge and perspectives that I have accumulated over the years.
It’s always about what’s next
My high school coach always asked my team, “what’s next?” After receiving a pass from my team mate, what do I do next? Shoot? Dribble? Pass? What if I was about to shoot but the defender manage to close out on me well? What’s my next move? What if I am going for a layup but a secondary defender comes from the side in an attempt to prevent me from scoring? What should I do then?
It’s always about reading the situation accurately and knowing the different options we have at a specific point in time so that we can make the correct decisions. And that is only possible with countless hours of practice, so that the body can execute as the mind commands.
Having hours of practice is less crucial in most workplaces, but being able to read and react accordingly is still highly relevant. When faced with a problem to solve, we need to diagnose the root cause and be aware of the resources that are available for us to tap on. This helps us decide what we want to do next to make progress on the project and not be crippled by the situation.
Individuals make the Team
As much as there is no “I” in “TEAM”, we have to recognise that a team is a group of individuals coming together to achieve a common goal. In a typical man-to-man defense setup, every player is expected to be able to stay in front of their assignments as much as possible so that help from teammates is minimised. That is because when a player assumes a position that allows him to help his teammate, he is actually leaving his own assignment which now has to be covered by yet another teammate and that leaves the entire team scrambling on defense.
It is a desirable trait to be helpful but perhaps a good question to ask is that does it make sense for a co-worker to help out in all the tasks that is expected of the team? First, he would likely be overworked and second, that would leave the team in a perpetual state of having to scramble to help one another because someone is not able to take care of his own tasks. Which begs the question, is he really helping the team?
Having short term memory
They say the greatest shooters in the world have the shortest memory. They don’t remember if they missed or made their last attempt. They never allowed the outcome of the previous shot to affect the next.
That’s something I have learnt to apply to other aspects of my life. It doesn’t matter if I failed at a task the previous time, I move on and work on the next. Even if I were successful previously, I still move on and work as hard on the next because who is to say that my past successes will guarantee my future achievements?
Be in the moment and trust the process(that’s if you had a process).
There are many more lessons that can be drawn from the game of basketball, especially team-related ones, but I have found that the above lessons helped me gained clarity on how an individual can approach adversities and also how he can think about his role as an individual contributor in an organisation.
Basketball is beyond just brawns, it is a test of character and the mind. It is a physical chess game.