A brief guide to life and basketball

‘A few strong instincts and a few plain rules suffice us.’

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Life can be ridiculously complicated, if you let it. I suggest we simplify.

Thich Nhat Hanh’s quote, which I’ve stolen as this site’s subtitle, is the shortest guide to life you’ll ever need:

“Smile, breath, and go slowly.”

If you live your life by those five words, you’ll do pretty well. For those who need a little more guidance, I’ve distilled the lessons I’ve learned (so far) into a few guidelines, or reminders, really.

And as always, these rules are meant to be broken. Life wouldn’t be any fun if they weren’t.

The brief guide

less TV, more reading
less shopping, more outdoors
less clutter, more space
less rush, more slowness
less consuming, more creating
less junk, more real food
less busywork, more impact
less driving, more walking
less noise, more solitude
less focus on the future, more on the present
less work, more play
less worry, more smiles
breathe

The above passage comes from Zenhabits, a brief post by Leo Babauta about how to simplify life. Sounds like simple, good, practical advice which we could all benefit from incorporating in each of our lives in today’s world of endless distractions and impulses. But does it apply in basketball? Let’s see

Less TV, More Reading

Have you noticed how the constant drama on sports channels that somehow engage us all in endless bickering, expert analysis, and constant predictions about what happens/didn’t happen/will happen…from the seat of our couches. If everyone is an expert, no one is. And if we all truly are, shouldn’t we be in the gym, in the streets, at the office, in the lab, applying this knowledge?

For all that we think we know about basketball, its athletes, its coaches, its mysteries, its laws, its physics, its art, its history…have we ever picked up a book on the subject? Have we read about the wisdom and life of John Wooden, the fundamentals of all various skills, such as dribbling and shooting that each high level athlete must practice in thousands and millions of repetitions in the classic A-Z Basketball Book, or the  STUFF All Good Players should Know by Dick Devenzio?

It’s not necessary to read these books, or any book you’re not required to, but it’s important then to remember that there’s a world of knowledge out there that you’re ignoring and basketball IQ that you’re not acquiring. Read more, and you realize that all that talk on TV is nonsense, it’s faux, it’s commercial.

Less Rush, more Slowness

Steph Curry didn’t become the world’s greatest shooter by speeding up his game; he simply trains his mind to slow down in order to remain fully present and react accordingly to his surroundings: the noise of the crowd, the pressure of the defense, and the mechanics of his shot. While everyone else is training to get stronger, quicker and more explosive, Steph Curry is able to execute his moves quicker by slowing the anxious human mind down.

Less Worry, More Smiles

Basketball is a tense game and no doubt, every player needs to be in attack mode in the unique ways the position they play requires of them. Still, kid athletes today shouldn’t get so aggressive and stressed out by the game that they end up burning out before they even hit their peak age. And while coaches should hold players accountable and keep them focused/locked in throughout the game, they might be wise to look at the Golden State Warriors coaching staff and player interactions during games and in-between timeouts.

Basketball and Eastern Philosophy

As the game gets increasingly competitive at all ages and levels, playing, training and teaching methods will also expand and one place to start looking at is where Phil Jackson began looking decades ago: Zen and Eastern philosophy. You don’t need to change religions, but players, trainers and coaches can all learn plenty about basketball and life by infusing eastern methods with western gameplay.