Luck vs. Skill
Mastering the Fundamentals
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Coaching Strategies: Luck vs.Skills
How much does “LUCK” really play in the outcome of your games? Luck does play a role in the outcome of basketball games. Luck is a convenient way to refer to good or bad things that happen that are beyond one’s control. Luck is unpredictable and, therefore, cannot be exploited. As all gamblers know, there is no reliable system, lucky charms, or habits to be lucky. Because of its random distribution, luck should even out over a period of time.
On the other hand, unlike luck, skill leads to predictability. The better you are, the less luck you will need. Skills and techniques put you more in control of the outcome. An example of this would be during a halftime contest: If a half court shot is made by a fan, selected at random, it is considered to be a “lucky shot.” However, if the same shot is made by a NBA or WNBA player, it still would be considered lucky, but not as lucky as the fan’s shot. The reason being is that the professional player has more control over the shot. Therefore, the more skilled players are the less luck is involved.
Bad luck, such as lucky opponent shots, unlucky bounces, bad calls, injuries, tournament draws, etc. are sometimes referred to as the “Breaks of the Game.” They are part of the game. However, breaks of the game tend to go more your way when you are highly skilled and prepared. After a loose ball scramble, a game winning shot at the buzzer by one of the opponent’s best shooters may be considered lucky. However, in analyzing this situation, the loose ball possession may have been a matter of luck, but the shot certainly was not.
“Hoped Shots” rarely end up in the basket. Players need to practice and employ their best shots. Some good practice shooters may become only average game shooters, but there are no poor practice shooters who are excellent game shooters. They must know their ability and shooting range. During a game, players should work hard to create an open shot within their range and don’t let their ego or outside pressures take them outside their range.
Player Development: Mastering the Fundamentals
Basketball is unique in that it is both a team game and an individual game, “a game within a game.” Basketball, more than any other sport, requires integration of individual talent and skills into unselfish team play. Therefore, improving player skills are vital to improving the team. Sound individual fundamentals are synonymous with sound habits of team play. Players must possess a thorough, working knowledge of the fundamentals of the game, not just a general understanding of them, but a complete mastery of their details.
Despite, size conditioning and talent of today’s basketball players, who succeeds and who fails is determined by who possesses fundamental skills. Developing and mastering basketball skills is not easy task. It is a never ending process requiring countless hours of individual practice and refinement. Work hard to overcome weaknesses. It is easy to practice something you already do well, and that is exactly what most players do. However, the best way to get better is to work on your weaknesses and turn them into your strengths. With proper practice players not only improve their basketball skills; but just as important, increase their level of confidence and success.
With the current emphasis and pressures of playing on select teams and “personal trainers” during the off season, it has taken away the onus and individual responsibility of skill development. Since games only reinforce and show case current abilities, player skill development is suffering. How many shots does a player get during a off season full court game? How many rebounds? It is said that it takes ten thousands of shots to become a proficient shooter. Likewise, it takes thousands of rebounds to become a rebounder. It’s called half court three-on-three!
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Player Development: Individual Defensive Skills and Techniques
Since basketball players spend most of their time and efforts developing and refining their offensive skills, they are usually very ill prepared defensively. Yet, despite having little or no defensive skills, coaches still expect their players to be able to go out and guard outstanding offensive opponents. However, to be successful, players must first possess a working knowledge of the defensive fundamentals.
Like their offensive counterparts, defensive fundamentals must be broken down and practiced constantly on all levels of basketball. Players need to know and practice how to guard the player with the ball, how to guard a player without the ball, how to guard a cutter, how to guard a player in post area, and how to box out and rebound on shots.
CAUTION: If you are not spending adequate practice time teaching and improving defensive fundamentals, then you are setting up your players and team for certain failure.
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