Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Second Wind

There seems to be no consensus to the exact meaning of "second wind," as a visit to wikipedia will reveal, but in my experience, it is a very real, physical and psychological phenomenon. Here is the way that normal people can experience it. Begin jogging or running and go as far as you can at your current level of fitness. When your body cries out in pain for you to stop and you begin gasping for breath and feel you can't possibly take another step, you are almost there. Trust me. Just keep on putting one foot in front of the other. Find yourself gasping for breath and then, focus on expelling air as hard as you can, to remove carbon dioxide, and allow yourself to gasp in more oxygen, and keep going.
This is where mental toughness comes in. Your body says, "No," but your mind has to say, "Just a little more." Here is where I sing the chorus, "They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall rise up with wings, as eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk, and not faint. Teach me Lord, teach me Lord, to wait." [Robert M. Ridley put these words to music in the 60's on a tape he gave me as a wedding present.] You have to take it on faith that you will "run and not be weary," but keep going, just a little farther.
Depending on how out of shape you really are, and how mentally tough you really are, and whether or not you have a running coach or partner, you might not make it, this time. But try it again, in two days, and again, two days after that. Don't give up. You will find, once your body has gotten used to this treatment, and once your mind has gotten you to push a little farther, that you can cross this threshold, and then you can keep running. It will become easier, and your breathing will become slower and regular, instead of gasping, and then, you can keep running for any distance you want. You will have gotten your second wind!
As you persist in your training, you will find that the second wind comes at a predictable time. For me, it has been somewhere between the two and three mile mark. Once you have achieved your second wind, you are somehow more coordinated, your can sense more of the world around you, and you can focus better.
Basketball players should run and get their second wind, and then go practice, scrimmage, or play. You will find your passes are more crisp. You can see the court. You can focus on the goal. You lose the me-centered consciousness and can do more for your team. You can play a full forty minutes. You will really feel yourself rise up on wings as eagles.
Go for your second wind!

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Faith and Basketball

In Basketball, there is an elusive attribute called "confidence" that determines whether or not the player will succeed.

If two players take the same shot, the one who is sure it will go in will likely make it; the one who hopes it will go in, won't make it. Most every player experiences this confidence at some time in their life. They hit one, and then another, and then, get into "the zone," and it appears they can't miss from that point forward.

"Being in the zone" is a self-fulfilling prophecy that has more negative consequences than positive ones. For example, if a player misses his or her first shot, s/he will be more reluctant to shoot the second. If they miss their second shot, they assume they aren't in the zone, and will not be an effective shooter that night.

What is this confidence and can it be taught to a player?

The Bible contains a definition of faith as the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. (Hebrews 11:1,2) It describes how believing (the verb form of the noun faith) takes hoped for things and materializes them. It changes an abstraction that is invisible and in the realm of hope into a concrete and substantial thing in the realm of present real life.

Some translations use the word assurance. It means being certain, being confident. When a basketball player stands at the foul line with faith, the shot will go in.

How do you teach faith? Real faith comes from doing your homework. When a student has to take a test, if he or she studies and does the homework problems, and rehearses the sample problems and teaches other students how to solve the problems, that student goes into a test with confidence.

In the same way, if a player has practiced and practiced and practiced the scenario before him or her to the point that it is a habit, he or she has confidence when the real game situation presents itself.

Faith is not a fluke of circumstance. Missing the first shot does not predestine you to be out of the zone. Sometimes, a miss is just a miss. Perhaps you didn't follow through; perhaps the defender distracted you. Just continue to do what you practiced and keep your confidence that if you do right, you will be rewarded. Keep the focus on doing everything you practiced and then, your faith will be rewarded.

You can make your own zone by having faith.

Friday, November 20, 2009

2009 MSU Men's Basketball

MSU Men's basketball played SE Louisiana last night. The result was a win for the bulldogs, but a disappointment to an old coach's eyes. We do have some great talent--don't get me wrong--but what was missing is going to cost us championships.

For example, one of our top-rated players was winded after three trips up and down the court. As a forward, he should be leading the pack in defensive transition, so he should be the first man to defend the basket. But he waited at half court before he decided whether or not it would be worth his time to help his team defensively. This same star player had just about the same upper body and upper arm size he had at the end of last season.

In short, he demonstrated that he had not paid the price of greatness in the off season. It is quite a simple formula: if you don't pay the price of greatness, you will not be great. For basketball, the off season price consists of weight training and long distance running. The not-so-great players, instead, spend the off season only playing basketball, generally, half court, and generally, with opponents of their own skill level or less. As a result, they come to mid October's first practice as worse players than they were in their last game of March Madness.

The only reason a team like ours doesn't get totally humiliated at the beginning of the season is because the other teams follow the same pattern. They are starting over each season, just like we are.

From time to time, a truly great player comes along. He has a great work ethic (as it is called) and does his physical training and conditioning on his own time and spends the team practice sessions working on basketball. His passes are crisp and his turnovers are low because he has energy and is in shape.

Unfortunately, I did not see him last night.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Jump Shot Consistency

You might notice that when you get in games your 3-point percentage is a lot less than when we practice.

It is just that your body reverts to the (some bad) habits you have done most and you are going to have to work on mental toughness to force yourself to do what we practice:

1. Complete stop of body lateral motion,
2. Jump vertically (do not lean forwards or backwards),
3. Release the shot at the top of the jump (just before you start back down)
4. Follow through: Arm extended vertically, wrist snapped down (not out).

If you do these things consistently, you can hit 90% or more. It is just physics! It takes mental toughness to force your body to do what your mind knows to do. And practice so much that it becomes your strongest habit.

See you,

Thursday, July 31, 2008


It's important to remember that you have 5 fouls in a game. If you can space out your 40 minutes and give 5 fouls during that time, you see an average of every 8 minutes you can foul. So plan is to use your fouls wisely. You want to keep people from making those easy points, so make your fouls count.

You want to find the balance between an intentional foul and a valid attempt to make them think about the pain the next time they try the same thing. Never knowingly do something that could injure the opponent, but try to get the full value for your foul. You want him to be distracted, whether he is in pain, or just out for vengeance. Either way, he will not be 100% focused, and you have won the mental game.

Don't waste the foul. A wasted foul means they got an opportunity to go to the line and shoot an uncontested shot, when they weren't already about to make a good play, i.e., an assist to an open player, or an open shot. A foul out front when they were just dribbling, for example, is a wasted foul.

You also waste your fouls if you have more than one or two left over at the end of the game. You do need to save some for overtime if the game is close, but you don't need to save them if your team is behind, and you've got to make a difference.

Unless the player is "in the zone" and has been popping 3-point shots all night, never foul outside the arc. Use distraction, instead.


Powered by Jott


Confidence. The most important part of any sport, basketball in particular, is confidence. If you stand at the line, if you think you can get that ball in, it will go in. If you're not confident, it will not go in. Confidence somehow makes things work. There is a way to build confidence. It comes from doing your homework. listen

Powered by Jott


Homework. The homework that allows you to have confidence that what you're going to do will work is called practice. If you have practiced over and over and over under the same stressful conditions that you'll see in the game, you will succeed. Confidence comes from practice, practice, practice. Practice is just the art of instilling a habit. listen

Powered by Jott