Monday, January 28, 2013

Ballhog or Too Passive?

Poland: Trying to make the right play.

  LeBron James versus Kobe Bryant.

  But not in a game of one-on-one. Let's take a look at their on-court mentalities. 

  I look at LeBron James as the ultimate team guy. He could average 35-plus points a game if he wanted to. But he has the mentality that: 'I'm going to do whatever my team needs me to do, to win'. His biggest criticism is that he doesn't take the big shots. And that he doesn't impose his will on each and every play.

  On the other hand, take Kobe Bryant. His biggest criticism is that he tries to do it all on his own, that he doesn't involve his teammates enough. I think his mentality is: 'I'm going to do whatever I have to do, to win'. He will take those big shots, every time. He imposes his will every time down the floor.

  Two enormously talented basketball players, two vastly different approaches and mentalities.

  LeBron and Kobe are two extreme examples, on the biggest and brightest stage. But you can see these mentalities on any basketball court in the world, no matter the level.

After a big NCAA Tournament win. Buffs on the scorers table!
  Where do they come from?

Natural Instinct
  One thing I've heard over and over from my coaches, even from the time I was just starting out, is 'Sabrina, you need to look to shoot more.'

  I jokingly had one coach in high school tell me he'd pay me for every shot I took over 15 in every game. At least I think he was joking. One way or the other, I never saw a dime.

  Some kids you have to tell the opposite -- that they need to pass more; involve their teammates more.

  And I'm willing to bet those comments, or suggestions, follow them for the rest of their careers, just as they have followed me.

In Poland vs. Wisla. 2006-2007.
  You can try to be more something, but your natural instinct always will shine through, and be present more often than not.

  If an on-court mentality is something you can be taught, (to be more-selfish, or to be less-selfish on the basketball court, etc), I must be a really bad learner.

  And I don't mean to sound as if I am patting myself on the back. 'Not shooting enough' has been one of my biggest stumbling blocks as a basketball player.

Playing Traffic Cop
  Being a facilitator has always been my nature. Ensuring my teammates are in the right spots, making sure things are running smoothly, a coach on the floor so-to-speak. Being a play maker.

  That's all well and good, but sometimes you need to throw that mentality out the window, and play ball.

  Just get it done. No matter what the play calls for, or where anyone is supposed to be.

  You can see how playing the role of facilitator can be a deterrent: you're focused more on others, rather than yourself.

Colorado vs. Illinois -- freshman year.
  That said, I like the way I play. I feel like I always try to make the best basketball play for my team in every situation. And being versatile has always been a source of pride for me.

  But the grass is always green on the other side, isn't it? You always think something else might be better. And this is no different. Maybe if I played a different way, it'd be better?

  Unfortunately it's a little too late in the game to be making any drastic changes, so I guess I'll never know. 

Learning a Different Mentality
  Can you cultivate demanding more of yourself on an individual level by playing an individual sport (something I never did competitively)?

  In individual sports, obviously, there's only you. You have to make the play every time. By competing in that capacity, you practice being the aggressor, and it becomes second nature. Then when you go back to your team sport, you have those experiences to fall back on.

  The perfect player would have the ability to go outside their comfort zone. They would be able to put their natural instincts aside, and play to what the situation called for. Is that possible on a long term basis?

   This is more so me wondering aloud: Where do our competitive mentalities come from? And can they be learned, or are they innate? What do you think?


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