If there's one thing you should always keep in mind when you step onto the court, it's this: NEVER underestimate your opponent.
Sure, you may have played against them before or heard that they're not that good, but assuming they'll be an easy match is a dangerous game to play.
It might sound completely obvious, but this is how upsets happen. Teams (or players) are on a big winning streak and get a little too cocky, but then: BOOM. The season is over.
In this article, we'll explore the reasons why you should never underestimate your opponent and provide some tips on how to approach every game with the right mindset.
Let's dive into it!
There Are No Meaningless Games
Have you ever heard this before: "Hey, why are you being so serious, it's just a pre-season game", or "We don't need to look over their film, they are trash anyways...".
Well, it might be the case, but if there's one thing that separates professionals from amateurs, and veterans from rookies – they approach every game seriously.
Every. Single. One.
As Tim Grover, who trained Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, and countless other high-achievers says:
"There’s no such thing as a meaningless game. Doesn’t matter if it’s the first preseason event or a midseason All-Star Game or the last game in a losing season, a champion shows up to play".
Excellence is a habit.
The Game Of Momentum
One of the most important aspects of every basketball game is momentum. Have you ever seen a team leading by almost 20 points closing the 3rd quarter, but then the other team manages to get a run, dominate the 4th quarter, and even win the game?
It happens all the time, even at the highest level.
It's an example of a team losing its momentum.
It's the feeling of the game shifting in your or your opponent's favor, and it can have a powerful psychological effect on both teams. When you have momentum on your side, you feel confident and energized, and it's easier to make shots and play aggressively.
It can be created in a variety of ways in basketball. Momentum can come from a series of successful plays, a big shot or dunk, a defensive stop, or even a loud and supportive home crowd. Whatever the cause, the key is to recognize when momentum is on your side and to use it to your advantage.
In every game, you have a few opportunities to set the tone and gain momentum quickly. Here are 4 you should definitely make the most of:
- Beginning of the game,
- Beginning of the 2nd half (or 3rd quarter),
- Beginning of each individual quarter,
- Inbound plays after time-outs.
They are put in that order based on their importance and the influence they have on the whole game.
Your job is to take advantage of these opportunities, which you only can do when you take your opponent seriously.
Remember, it's always better to overprepare and come in very aggressive and set the tone instead of being too cocky and allowing your opponent to become confident and gain too much momentum.
Set the tone early!
Prepare For The Worst
When it comes to your mental state and preparation for a game here's a great quote to live by "Hope for the best, but prepare for the worst".
Deep inside you, have the courage and belief in yourself that no matter what happens, you'll be able to adjust. Have faith that future looks bright.
On the other side, be ready for when unpredictability strikes. When nothing goes your way and you still have to adjust and find your way out.
It's a strange mental contradiction that all of the greats share. A magic mix of paranoia and faith.
- There are no meaningless games
- Excellence is a habit
- Understand the game of momentum
- Set the tone early!
- Hope for the best, but prepare for the worst
If you have any questions, are looking to give us advice, or just want to talk hoops, don't hesitate to reach out!
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Until next time!