Monday, March 26, 2012

An Unexpected Boost: Learning from those around you

Cope in the post.
  The 2011-2012 season is rapidly coming to a close here in Dunkerque. Five more games, and we can call it a wrap.

  This past weekend, we had our last bye of the season, and I took advantage by watching as much basketball as I possibly could. It wasn't necessarily a conscious effort on my part, it just sort of worked out that way. And I think I found an unexpected boost to finish out my season. 

  Here in France (and Belgium, since I am so close to the border), there are various men's and women's pro leagues. With the number of other teams in the area, you would have thought I would have made it to several games at this point in the season. But until this weekend, I had only been to one game since I got to France in August (a women's LFB game that a friend played in January).

  In the span of two days, I went to two men's games: one Pro B game in France, and a Division I game in Belgium to watch a fellow Colorado alum Chris Copeland play.

  To me, it's very different watching a game in person, rather than just on TV. Obviously, I have seen my fair share of televised basketball games recently. But there is nothing like watching a game in person.

Lille versus Le Portel.
  You can see how each individual approaches the game. Their preparation. Their interaction with their teammates and coaches. Their focus. Their intensity. None of that can be conveyed though the television screen (or the computer screen in my case).

  In case you didn't know, the men's and women's game are two completely different games. Sure it's basketball, but they way the games are played, and even how the players approach the game is vastly different. (Or maybe MY approach is vastly different than how I see most guys' approach being.)

  I don't know how to properly describe it other than saying, I think guys take a "worry about yourself, and it's a full time job" approach. Meaning, they concentrate fully on doing their job, and their job alone, going into the game.

Fresh Perspective
  This weekend, and watching those two games was kind of an eye-opener for me. Or a reminder. And a fresh perspective. When you go week after week, game after game doing the same thing over and over again, it's easy to get stuck in a rut. You're in your own world, and you may or may not get any feedback or advice. As a result, you focus on the same things each and every game. And sometimes when that focus becomes more and more narrow, you can get into trouble.

  So that's what watching those two games this weekend did for me. It broadened my perspective, and it reminded me there are other ways to approach a game (Not that how I have been going into games is wrong. I just think it's good to change up your focus, and freshen it up a bit.)

  I came away from this weekend with a different outlook, and picked up a few things that I can add to my focus to help make me a better player. And I think refocusing will help me in my final five games this season.

  Guys play the game with so much confidence in THEIR game. It's not cockiness (well sometimes it's cockiness, but the confidence I respect, and am referring to is NOT cocky). And their approach to the game reflects their attitude, and that confidence. You can see it in how they warm up, and how they step onto the court.

Floor spread, one on one. Easy.
  During the game in Belgium, I found myself watching Chris a lot. What he did when he had the ball in his hands. And what he did when he was off the ball. We have a similar style of play and skill set, but he has more of a scorer's mentality than I have ever had. He evaluates, and thinks the game in the same ways that I do.

  I noticed he does what he does best, and he's committed to it. He scores the ball. And he asks for/wants the ball every time down the court. But not in a selfish way. He's just aggressive, and wants to do his best for his team. 

  Cause when he's at his best, his team is at it's best. That is something I need to remind myself, and apply to my own game. When I'm at the top of my game, my team will only benefit.

Do What You Do Best
  I get caught up in 'running the play' too much, and forget to just play. But at the end of the day, it's basketball. A game I've been playing since I was five or six. Regardless of the system you play in, the object of the game is to put the ball in the basket. So you have to figure out how to best do that. No matter what. 

  Another thing I noticed was that Chris was able to focus on just doing his job. He wasn't worried about helping the point guard get the ball up the court, or if the center or small forward were in the right position on the court. He focused on himself, and his job.

  He evaluated how the defense was guarding him, and he adjusted accordingly by reading the defense. It's what you're taught to do from the time you first start playing. You always read the defense. If you have an advantage in some way, you exploit that advantage -- regardless if the play calls for it.

  The last thing I took away from Chris's game, was that he was never in a hurry. He took exactly what the defense gave him. If the defense took one thing away, he countered. That's the great thing about being a versatile player: there's no perfect way to guard you. You always have an answer to how a defender is playing you.

Floor's spaced!
  When you take this approach, you're reminded just how EASY the game of basketball is. It's not a complicated game, but sometimes it seems that way. Over-thinking can be one of the biggest deterrents to a great basketball player.

  I learned (or re-learned) a lot from watching Chris this weekend. It was a great refresher for me.

  It reminded me of things I have told myself time and time again, and somehow forget over the course of a season. It allowed me to re-evaluate what I'm doing on the court, and how I approach the game.

  Anytime you feel like you're in a rut, sometimes the only way to get out of it is to change things up, and get a fresh perspective. I'm looking forward to my final five games this season. And I'm excited to put my new/updated approach to good use!


  1. I like this a lot, especially about keeping it simple. I think you would make a wonderful coach!!!

    1. Thanks!! I'll definitely stay involved with basketball in some way, shape or form when I'm done playing! :)