Basketball and the Night Watch.
A long time ago I was in a bookstore and came across the great Japanese swordsman Miyamoto Musashi's classic book on zen philosophy and sword fighting techniques The Five Rings. Musashi killed over sixty men in combat and lived a long life, so I assumed he had something to say about gearing up for a fight. I bought the book.
I pulled it off my shelf this morning and found the notes that I had made when I first read the book. I was pleased to find that I made such a good summation of some of the key points as they pertained to basketball and that those key points were still very relevant.
Here are the three key ideas that I got from the book.
1) Never show fear. Never believe that your opponent is smarter than
you, and never put yourself in an inferior position. Let's say, you
back three feet off your man on your close-out on the ball. You
just told your man that you don't think you can guard him. Or, if
you let him walk across the lane into the low post, same thing.
2) Know why you are doing things. Musashi says that a lot of
competitors reveal their lack of strategic knowledge just by
how they dress, carry themselves, or in how even in how they
warm-up. I used to watch what the other teams did during their
warm-up to see if they would reveal a lack of intelligence. I would
see coaches line their whole team around the free throw lane
and have them shoot two free throws and stomp their feet
on makes. That shit don't happen in games, so why do it?
(Which happens to be a another point the master makes,
"Don't do useless things.")
3) Strike through the spirit of your opponent. You have to do
things that unsettle the person or team you are playing against.
On offense, this means you have to strike quickly and figure
out ways to get by your man. On defense, it means to impose
your will on him. Do not let them do things they want to do.
These things apply to team offense and defense as well as individual
play. There are lots of other things he says that make a lot of sense. For example, he emphasizes the fact that a lot of people fail because they divide their life into too many compartments. Musashi says you only have one life and all elements within it need to brought into proper alignment with your ultimate goal and not divided into different goals and wishes.
Another good point he makes is not try to counter your opponent's moves, but to attack first, quicker and harder to knock them off balance.
There is a lot of knowledge contained in a relatively small book.