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Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Basketball: Visualize and Prepare for Failure

"All simulators are wrong." - Chris Hadfield

"The drill is not the game." 

In a MasterClass lesson, Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield discussed simulations. The Russian space agency creates a vacuum around its mockup of the International Space Station (ISS). When they 'simulate' a leak (a micrometeorite recently hit the ISS), oxygen pours out, creating a life-threatening emergency. Astronaut trainees have to solve a 'real' not a simulated problem. Finding and securing leaks are literally life and death scenarios. They must diagnose and isolate the damaged compartment and seal the leak. The ISS doesn't generate its own oxygen, brought to the ISS periodically. 

Learning basketball is just like learning to ride a bicycle. People fall off as they learn. 

Simulators became essential with the evolving aviation industry. A dozen pilots died delivering mail in 1934 because of unfamiliarity with flying in bad weather. Edwin Link flew to a meeting in unflyable conditions and his company received contracts for Link Trainers. It wasn't the first simulator, just the most renowned.

Failure leaves a strong and bitter taste. Many drills don't simulate pressure and decision-making required during games. Brian McCormick has written about this extensively in his Fake Fundamentals series, contrasting block and random practice

Failure can leave deep footprints. Build in decision-making and failure at practice. The classic challenge is advantage-disadvantage. My favorite situation is 5 against 7 with no dribbling. Without passing, cutting, vision and execution, you lose. Modifying shell drill by removing a defender randomly forces defensive scrambling and communication. 

3-on-3 'chase' transition also stresses the defense. 

Add constraints in area (e.g. small sided games), time limits to achieve results in drills, situations (e.g. starters playing from behind with limited time OR playing with a lead (e.g. 8 points, 3 minutes) without any additional offensive possessions allowed.) 

Virtual reality could be the next failure evolution. Enterprising programmers could present many challenges requiring decision-making. 


Everyone knows a myriad of pick-and-roll defenses - over the top (hard), show (hedge/fake trap), switch, blitz (double), ICE, et cetera. Zak Boisvert shares another, bringing a help side defender and rotating the on-ball defender. I've heard this called "X" by some. 

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