From a productivity perspective, a lot of experts talk about getting into the flow, where you are completely immersed in a task and can essentially zone out all distractions. In the workplace, the state of flow is highly lauded as the most productive you–as an employee-can be.
When I think of flow in basketball terms, I think about the freedom and adrenaline rush you feel from being completely engaged in a competitive game. I alluded to this feeling in my last post, and wanted to try my best of pinpointing this feeling in words.
It’s a stretch to compare basketball to figure skating, so maybe skateboarding might be a better analogy. On a skateboard, timing, angles, proper use of strength and explosiveness help you ollie onto a ramp or do a kickflip. When you watch some of the top street skateboarders run a course, it feels like watching a perfect performance where the skateboarder’s body parts are all being orchestrated in one fluid movement.
I get that same sense of fluidity when I run down the court on a fastbreak and have to time my steps to lay the ball in. There is a sense of completion, like fulling zipping up a zipper, or closing a Ziplock back, that comes with a well-timed pass to a jump shot or layup. Not the best analogy comparing the fluid movements of basketball to a Ziplock bag, but it was the first thing that came to mind.
Beating Your Opponent
It goes without saying, when you beat someone else one-on-one it simply feels good. More importantly, the feeling of getting past a defender who is equal to you in terms of speed and quickness is one of the best feelings I get from playing basketball. It’s not even about the total domination of another player, but the small wins that take place on one post move or the ability to make a pass down low in zone defense. Those little wins throughout the game only eke me on to get more little wins which results in a string of plays which culminates in 4 quarters of basketball.
The older I get, the more I have to rely on understanding the spacing and angles of the game rather than relying on physical prowess. That has made the game a lot more enjoyable and allows me to come to peace with the fact I can’t jump as high as I could before or dive for loose balls like I used to. To take it up another notch, the game ends up being more like 18 holes of golf where I’m forced to beat myself and improve my skills through constant learning and change.
I think back to 2008 when I was living in San Francisco at the time, and I went to an open run at a gym somewhere in the city. We go there early and the previous group was still on the court playing pickup. I looked more closely at the players and they were all well into their 50s and 60s wearing various braces, knee pads, and sleeves to guard their failing knees and limbs from overuse and degenerative wear and tear. Despite the injuries you sustain and the pain you feel from the physical aspect of the game, you still continue playing to enjoy those moments of fluidity and small wins.