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Saturday, March 26, 2016

The Interplay of Strength and Weakness: 500th Post

"The race is not always to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, but that's the way to bet." - Damon Runyon

How our teams function sits at the intersection of strength and weakness. We can sometimes derive ideas from other disciplines. For example, we may have a 'good' offensive player who is a severe defensive liability. Or we have a powerful player who is a poor free throw shooter leading to Hack-a-Shaq strategy. We need to determine whether one skill offsets the corresponding weakness.

Finding solutions informs our job. Because the game is eighty percent mental, a player's "basketball IQ" matters. 

I Keep Six Honest Serving Men

I keep six honest serving-men
(They taught me all I knew);
Their names are What and Why and When
And How and Where and Who.
I send them over land and sea,
I send them east and west;
But after they have worked for me,
I give them all a rest.

I let them rest from nine till five,
For I am busy then,
As well as breakfast, lunch, and tea,
For they are hungry men.
But different folk have different views;
I know a person small
She keeps ten million serving-men,
Who get no rest at all!
She sends em abroad on her own affairs,
From the second she opens her eyes
One million Hows, Two million Wheres,
And seven million Whys!
- Rudyard Kipling

Be objective. How? I sometimes ask the players to 'tell me'. Who moves best without the ball? Who rebounds best? Let them model the best practices for each other.

Leverage and maintain strength. We're small, fast, and athletic. We have to play fast, extend our defense, and dominate foul-line to foul-line. Because we play fast, we need superior conditioning.

Camouflage weakness. Everyone has to rebound. We can't leak out players in transition...we need the ball first.

Improve weakness (skill, conditioning, teamwork, mental toughness). The middle block of the 'Pyramid of Success' defines an important core identity. You will never find a shortcut to success.

Limit opponent's strength. We will never be able to completely arrest what our opponent wants to do or does best. But if they want to pound the ball inside, we need more ball pressure, better post defense even though it may mean fronting with better backside help. We can't afford the charity of undisciplined fouls.

Attack opponent's weakness. Are they slow? How well are they conditioned? Basketball success demands finding a way to attrite our opponent. We have to wear them down with 'body shots' and then finally 'chop down the beanstalk'.

Adapt and overcomeDo more of what's working and less of what isn't. Although we need to do everything better, we definitely need to shoot better. That means both accuracy and range, and versatility within your system. A shooter needs to learn to shoot off the catch and the dribble, off the curl and the downscreen. That demands a wealth of repetitions, a concomitant of commitment and competitiveness. 

What price are you willing to pay to solve the delicate balance of strengths and weaknesses within your available resources? 

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