Mastering dribbling, dropping long shots in the basket, and running fast are all specific skills that good basketball players must develop. Along with all this is the need to develop awareness of your surroundings.
The most important thing that being aware will gain a player is metacognitive thinking. In simpler terms, you’ll think ahead. To be more aggressive and an offensive player you need the ability to think ahead and this will only be gained by becoming more aware on the court.
Move on from being just a player to being a game-maker who understands scenarios instinctively and reacts fast. Only then will you be a valuable player with significant contribution. Otherwise, merely being athletic is not sufficient.
Read on to find out if you’re aware on the court as a basketball player and how to help yourself become more aware.
- Feedback speed
- Enhance your peripheral vision
- Meditate to develop concentration
- Play offensively
You know that you’re really aware when you’re on the court and you get immediate feedback. Your body will move without you thinking about it. You’ll be absolutely focused, and you won’t be thinking about what you’re going to do once its break time, or whether you have homework.
Many players are a little lazy about concentration during practice, thinking that they’ll ‘save it’ when the big games come. But concentration, like any other skill, requires practice. Only with strong muscle memory and concentration will you develop the split second timing that can mean the difference between a win and a loss for your team.
Athletes don’t like to think about it, but it’s true that even if you’re a decent player and your teammates really like you, if you’re not an integral reason that your team is winning, then your teammates may not really consider you as a great player. Developing court awareness can mean the difference between a good player and a great player.
On the basketball court, being aware relies strongly on peripheral vision. You can tell where your teammates are as opposed to where the opponents are and what everyone is doing. Even as you’re running, you should know how everyone is moving and where the ball is going.
Developing verbal and non-verbal signals like calls is very important, but these tend to be practiced explicitly when practicing basketball plays. On the other hand, peripheral vision is also vital so that you can anticipate movement and go for picks and screens in a flash without wasting valuable time looking for who is open to your passes.
Your peripheral vision should be good enough to let you know where everyone is on the court at all times. Do you want to be remembered as the guy who went for the winning shot only to have the ball grabbed by an opponent mid-shot?
Meditation is a strong method to develop mindfulness or concentration power. It may seem like a weird suggestion for an athlete, who is defined by activity, but meditation isn’t only for monks. Meditation is difficult for people who cannot let go of extraneous thoughts and concentrate upon only one thing, and meditating properly can help them develop that focus.
As an athlete, meditation can truly be a way to practice awareness building when you’re off the court as well. You don’t have to do it in a special stance, or hum, or such things. Merely sitting without any distractions and concentrating on a single thought will develop your power of concentration.
Do it ten minutes at a time if you can’t do more. Don’t get too ambitious!
This isn’t a matter of your position on the court, it’s a matter of mentality. Your awareness of the court should enable you to make every single move about getting points. Merely getting the ball away from your opponents is not sufficient motivation to make a move.
Once you’ve developed your basketball court awareness, you’ll be able to see how you should move, and move before consciously thinking it. Some people actually talk of it as an altered state, where they feel the time moving more slowly, and their thinking is much sharper.
When you can think like this, you’ll be a leader instead of blindly following other people’s gameplays. With a team who is in sync, you should be able to make reasonable adjustments on the fly, and make winning moves.
So keep on practicing, and keep on loving your game. Just don’t think of it as a purely physical game, at least half of the game is in the mind. Be the best player you can.