The Simplicity of the Game

This entry is part 12 of 12 in the series R&R Intro

I’ve watched a lot of basketball over my lifetime. I’m not that old but I’ve coached, played, or watched hundreds of games. It is so simple and so basic. The simplicity makes the game beautiful. Yet I feel like we make it so complicated.

One team is trying to score. The other team is trying to keep them from scoring. Then the other team gets the ball, and the roles are reversed. It isn’t scripted. It can’t be. Every possession takes on a life of its own.

Yet it all boils down to the same basic things.

On offense…

Shooting, dribbling and passing when a player has the ball. Movement and spacing when they don’t have it.

On defense…

Defending the player with the ball and being in position to defend the other players if they receive the ball.

Gaining possession when it’s up for grabs…

This could be loose balls or rebounds, but teams have to be able to get the ball to increase their number of scoring opportunities while at the same time limiting the other team.

Transitioning between each of the phases…

Physically and mentally being able to switch from defense to offense or visa versa is critical.

The teams that collectively do these 4 things the best win.

At some point it turns into a big game of one on one. Who is better? Me or you? And then the next person catches the ball and its a new game of one on one.

Yes there needs to be structure on both ends of the floor and in transition. Yes we can’t just roll the ball out and say “Have fun. Good luck”. But really, how hard is it?

All the X’s and O’s don’t matter much if your X’s are better than my O’s. Sure I might be able to compensate for some of that as a coach, but really?

Of course there’s the mental component. Who can make the best decisions? Who wants it more? Who can execute under pressure? Who takes the competitive challenge and cherishes it? Who can make up for physical limitations through mental skills and effort?

But really, why do we make the game so complicated? Isn’t it just about 5 people working together to complete a task? Isn’t it about each player beating their opponent at the given task as many times as they possibly can when the opportunity presents itself?

There are tons of different ways to go about it. At the end of the day, the game is simple.

We aren’t playing American football where we have one group that plays offense, another group that plays defense, and we can huddle before every play. We aren’t playing hockey where we can substitute anytime we want. It’s not soccer where one goal could be enough to win.

It’s basketball. It’s team. Even slow tempo games or defensive struggles have significant amounts of scoring compared to other games. There’s a reason football is turning into a up tempo game.

I would like to challenge coaches that through all of the schemes and game plans that we don’t lose sight of what makes this game great. It is its simplicity.

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