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A Feel for the Game

 

There are many things in the game of basketball that helps a player get to the next level. One of them is having a feel, a sense, a knowing of the game.  This “feel” is deeper than understanding the score and how many falls you have. Its about knowing the games in and outs.  Its ebbs and flows. Its twists and turns. A knowledgeable coach or knowledgeable fan can instantly point out a player who has a feel for the game, by the way in which they conduct themselves on the court.

The following points can be noticed in a player who has a great “feel” for the game:

 

-The understanding of the game clock, the shot clock, end of quarters, halves, and end of games

-The understanding of when a teammate is hot, or a specific teammate needs a touch of the ball

-The understanding of a mismatch, where it is, and how to exploit it (on both ends of the floor)

-The understanding of momentum and runs. When to push the ball and when to slow down

-The understanding of team fouls and personal fouls and using them to your advantage

 

How does a player develop this “feel?”

 

He/She watches the game ALL the time. They become a student of the game through hours and hours and hours of watching practices, pick-up games, high school games, college games, and professional games. They start to see trends and understanding of mismatches, team fouls, when players are hot, using the game clock and shot clock, and on and on and on.

 

He/She practices ALL the time. Playing with/against lesser competition, playing with/against better competition. Playing with shorter players and with taller players. Practice, practice, practice. The more you build up your muscle memory in all manners of ways, the better off you’ll be. What are your best moves? What moves can you always rely on? What moves do you need to work on? What about your teammates best moves, what moves do they rely on, what moves do they need to work on? A student of the game knows these things… What about whom you are playing against? What are their best moves, what moves do they rely on, what moves do they need to work on? A student of the game knows these things…

 

He/She plays games ALL the time. Games with referee’s and coaches calling plays, and screaming fans. Games in tournaments where winning means moving on, and losing means going home.  Where one games outcome means a league title or a second place finish. Games where pressure is high. Overtime games. Double overtime games. Games you’re losing in crunch time, and come back to win. A player with a “feel” for the game learns from these experiences and the next time a similar situation occurs, he/she can handle it better. And then the next time even better. And even better. Until pressure becomes non-existent. The yelling fans can’t be heard.

 

Add everything together: watching, practicing, and playing. You are now a student of the game. You have a true “feel” for it, and consequently given yourself a better opportunity to be successful.

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