Sunday, December 27, 2015

Lazy Sunday Enabler Spotlight: Hey Sports Fans

Hey there procrastinators, welcome to another edition of the Lazy Sunday Enabler Spotlight!  This time, we'll be shamelessly stealing the intros of the videos that we will be talking about today...what fun!

Anyone who has spent any amount of time with me can tell you that I'm a sports fan.  In fact, that is some hardcore underselling: I'm a shockingly large sports fan.  The spirit of competition is something that I have always been born with, and sports as a young child was the perfect outlet.  Despite not being entered into many organized youth sports, I made my way by playing pickup games with the kids at school, in the neighborhood, wherever I could find similarly minded people.

However, I wasn't exactly blessed with a world of athletic talent: even as a kid, I wasn't anything special in that arena (I was quite bitterly disappointed when I was voted "Most Intelligent" by my fellow members of my 3rd grade class instead of "Most Athletic").  So, in order to compete with the more athletic kids, I used the skills that led to my "Most Intelligent" designation: if I had to catch up to a faster kid who was running away from me, I would use an angle to beat him/her to the spot and catch them.  If I had to avoid an run away from a faster kid, I would very my running speeds to keep my adversary on their toes, on their heels and flat-footed as I ran past them whilst they were in an uncomfortable position.  I would subtly hint at running one way, then cut hard to the other way.  For a couple of years, getting into high school, I could get away with this.

Tricks like those only last so long though, and my lack of athleticism caught up to me rather quickly.  However, my love of sports persisted, but more so through the mental aspect of the game.  Strategies, positions, routes, plays; all of these different decisions throughout the entire game leading to the drama of a great finish fascinated me further then the simple athletic ability did.

Recently, due to a few factors, my favorite sport has become basketball.  Seeing as how basketball, on the face of it, depends so much on individual athleticism, this might come off as a strange love of an unathletic, skinny kid with no game.  However, basketball is a sport which is, at its heart, built around percentages: more specifically, getting the best percentage chance to score on every given possession on offense while the defense tries to put you in positions where the percent chance of a made basket drops or the chance of a turnover increases.  All of this occurs within a series of mini-plays that take the period of time that the shot clock encompasses.  Throughout these mini-plays, there are many aspects in action: which is the best player to get the shot?  From where should said player get the shot?  Do you want to give the ball to that player immediately and therefore, decrease your chances of getting a turnover while also decreasing your chance to get an easier shot, or do you want to go for more of the high-risk, high-reward style of quick passes to find the right shot?

Don't believe me?  Check this out then:

 That would be one of my favorite videos (for obvious reasons) from a little channel called BBallBreakdown.  This channel features Coach Nick as the host breaking down, in his opinion, why a certain team won a game; how certain full offensive schemes work; training techniques for improving the skills of players; and interviews with players and coaches about the finer details of their crafts.

This is a very simple idea, and not an altogether original one even.  Why, then, is this channel the one I'm talking up?  Well, like it does in basketball, it all comes in the execution: Coach Nick is a fantastic analyst of the game in ways that TV color commentators could only dream of.  This is due to four things: relatively slick production values (always nice), he can speak from a place of experience as a coach (at what level, I'm not too sure, but the concepts remain the same), he has a gift for expressing complicated ideas in ways that the average viewer can understand, and-most importantly, I believe-he doesn't treat his audience like it's made up of laymen; he speaks to them as potential future coaches, which helps to separate him from a crowd of would-be Kenny Smiths.  This last point is especially helpful to my enjoyment of the breakdowns, as I appreciate being treated as someone who can be trusted to understand what he is talking about over game footage, or figure it out quickly enough to continue following.  It's like an English teacher realizing that you're at a stronger reading level, so the teacher gives you The Lord of the Flies while the rest of the class gets Hop on Pop; it feels good to be trusted to be smart enough to understand something beyond the basic mechanics.  Consequently, I always feel smarter after watching one of his videos, and the more I feel like I learn about basketball, the more I enjoy it.  The clever gentleman has created a cycle of positive reinforcement for sports nerds.  So.  Freaking.  Brilliant.

If you'd like more proof, here is Coach Nick's two part series in which he breaks down his favorite offensive system, the Triangle:

There is a lot more goodness on his YouTube channel as well as on his website.  The website not only has extended versions of the videos on his channel, but the companion articles are just as juiced with basketball goodness.  If you're interested in basketball, or just want to learn more about it, I highly encourage you to check both out.

Are you in?  I know that I am.


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