The two “S” words have always been a mystery for a basketball coach.
Streaks and slumps.
Why does a player all of a sudden get a hot hand and start shooting lights out? Why does the same player get cold and start missing the exact same shots that he was hitting blindfolded just two games ago?
Here is an explanation.
Sports is all about motion and motion is all about the muscles. If you want to understand sports and why a player gets hot or cold, then you have to understand the inner mechanisms that control the muscles. You have to understand why on one day the muscles are performing with grace and effectiveness, and why another day, that same delicacy is nowhere to be found.
If you want to understand how the muscles operate, then it would be prudent to listen to the great athletes when they describe how they felt when performing their best. If you had the opportunity to sit down with 100 great athletes from any sport, because all great athletes describe their experience when they are in the Zone in almost identical terms, three main themes would emerge:
- Time was experienced as moving slowly
- The highly discriminating intellect was shut down
- The motion was effortless
These athletes are saying that what controls their muscles are three abstract feelings. It would make sense that if you could experience by design, what these athletes occasionally experience by chance, then you would have a very powerful program which would allow an athlete to perform at his/her best systematically.
That is the program we teach.
We teach basketball players, whether they are on the free throw line or shooting field goals, to experience the three essential keys to performing their best.
Every player has had those days when everything just clicked. But they are not too sure how that feeling came their way, and they are not too certain on how to bring it back. There are those days when the basket looked twice the size, when everything just seemed to be moving in slow motion and when the ball felt like butter coming out of their hands. It’s a mystery why they have these experiences one day and can’t find it the next.
We demystify that experience and set up the conditions, which are subtle and abstract, but very, very powerful, which allow the muscles to operate with maximum efficiency. We have developed a systematic means to set up these conditions, which is the goal of every sports psychologist (which we are not) and every coach. We explain and teach that when a player gets a hot hand these three conditions are present and when these three conditions are absent, a player cools off rather quickly.
This experience is universal for every athlete and can take a team or a player that is struggling on the free throw line or in making shots from the perimeter, and quickly turn them around. And that can make all the difference in the world in a long basketball season.