Wednesday, June 3, 2009

establish yourself

The first few minutes of a game are extremely important because they set the tone for the entire rest of the game. The beginning of any game is really a feeling-out period, where players from both teams size up the competition, get a feel for who can play and who can't, and try to figure out the weaknesses and strengths of their competition.

If you estabish yourself and your level of play right from the get-go, you'll let it be known that you are a big-time player, a big-time competitor, and that your opponent is in for a very tough game playing against you. And here's why it can be so important: if you're playing against a weak opponent, showing them that you're a big-time player will take them right out of their game. You'll plant a seed of doubt in their minds that they can play at your level, and you'll have an edge over them for the rest of the game. You'll be amazed in that if you're playing against a weak or weak-willed opponent, this technique will literally take them out of the game, and you'll be well on your way to dominating them for the rest of the game.

If you're playing against a good opponent, establishing yourself early will simply let them know that they're in for a competitive night. It will let them know that you're at their level, that you're up for the challenge, and they they don't have an advantage or edge over you. If you're playing against a solid, quality opponent, you'll let them know they're playing against an equal and that they'll have to really work to compete against you. It will also plant a small seed of doubt in their minds that you might not be an equal, that you might be a little bit better than them. And in this way, they'll think a little bit more about you during the game, and might miss a shot or 2 they'd regularly make, or might not go for an offensive rebound they might normally go after.

Either way, playing against a weak opponent or a very strong one, using thig teqhnique will be to your advantage. There's another advantage to making a conscious effort to estblish yourself early: making sure that you get off to a good start every game. There may be times when you'd normally get caught up in the excitement of a big game, or get distracted by an early foul, and have your whole game thrown off. But if you get your mind set on making this happen each and every time you take the floor, you're more likely to make it happen and gain the advantage from it.

I teach that the first 3 minutes of the game are the key to setting that tone. If you establish yourself in the first 3 minutes of the game, you'll put yourself in a position to have a solid outing.

But this concept doesn't just apply to the first part of the game, it also applies any time a new player comes into the game that is playing against you, and it applies to the start of each quarter, and the 2nd half. The first 3 minutes of the game are most important, but you also need to re-establish your dominance each time a new player comes into the game that you're playing against, and then again at the beginning of each quarter, and the 2nd half.

Now that you understand the concept, here's how to make it happen.

From the opening tip, play at the highest level of intensity possible. Play smart and strong. Move quickly. Crash the boards every single time a shot goes up. Play defense like it's the last play of the game and you can't and won't allow your opponent to score. Play offense like you are the best scorer on the floor: go to the basket strong, shoot with confidence, and dribble the ball with confidence.

In short, establish yourself right from the start as a big-time player. Do this through maximum intensity and maximum competitiveness.

Establishing yourself early in the game is a simple concept, but one that is very, very effective. From this point forward, everytime you take the floor for a game, remind yourself to do this. It'll make you a better player.

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