Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Losing the Complacency, & Recapturing the Competitiveness

Back to game action.

  Imagine playing a game you've played countless times.

  But this time, you're a step slow. Your reactions are a little off. You have no feel, or rhythm, for the game. And you feel like you could get hit with a flying elbow at any moment. That's how I felt back on the basketball court, until recently.

  And then I felt things click. Something switched in my head.

  That's what pre-season is for. To get your body in the condition to play physical games week after week. To acclimate to your teammates and develop team chemistry. To rediscover that feel for the game. And also, maybe most-importantly, to recapture that competitive spirit.

  Since I arrived back in Dunkerque nearly three weeks ago, my teammates and I have played in five 'friendly matches'. But they've hardly been friendly.

  It's the first real game action many of us have seen since last April or May. It's not a running workout, shooting, or weights, where there's only one person to worry about: you. It's not pickup, where it's just for fun (for the most part), where you can turn it off and on as you please. It's not practice, where you're working towards a common goal with your teammates. It's a game. And people are trying to beat you. (And I swear, sometimes, trying to hurt you.)

  They're competing.

  Until I felt that switch flip, I felt out of sorts. Like I was being 'out-competed', so-to-speak.

No more shooting workouts. Where it's just you & the hoop.
  We were in a tournament this past weekend in Strasbourg. I was getting beat in situations I wasn't used to getting beat in. I was a step behind. I was reacting, instead of making my opponent react to me. Granted I was still adjusting to the speed and the intensity of the game. But I wasn't competing.

  After my fourth preseason game, I realized I was coasting, and not thinking competitively. I suppose was still in pickup mode, whereas everyone else on the court was already in regular season mode.

  There's such a thing as being too comfortable. I think that's called complacency. Being complacent is not the way to play basketball, or any sport for that matter. If you want to be successful, anyway. Complacency leads to unequal playing fields where you'll always be at a disadvantage.

  When I realized my error in thinking, or preparation, that's when it came together for me.

  I think I got a little ticked -- that I allowed myself to play like that. Playing mad isn't necessarily a bad thing, as long as it doesn't hinder you, that you don't stop thinking.

Competing against yourself only does so much.
  I decided to challenge myself, change things up a bit. Play more aggressively than what my 'norm' is. And you know what, things started to happen. I was the aggressor, instead of the reactor. I played freely, instead of over-thinking. Sure, I got a couple of fouls I don't normally get, but oh well. You get five of them. So you better use a couple.

  Your natural demeanor and personality are who you are at the core. In my opinion, you can't really change them much. Demeanor and personality are ever-present on the basketball court, as well as off.

  I'm naturally a laid-back, easy-going person. And more often than not, that sort of demeanor doesn't translate into a successful basketball player. You can't be too nice on the court. If you are, you'll be taken to school every time you step between the lines.

Time to compete!
  So you work to develop your personality on the court, all the while retaining the person you are off the court.

  It sounds a lot like pushing outside of comfort zone. Being a little bit of something you're not (while on the court), all in the name of being successful. The easy thing to do, is to slide into what is comfortable. Then we're back to being complacent. It requires more focus

  If I've learned anything from my three weeks of pre-season thus far, it's this:

- Be hungry.

- Remember why you play.

- And most importantly, competing is never easy. It's hard work!

  Two more friendly matches to go til the regular season! Including one tonight against a Belgian team. I'll keep working!


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