Originally Posted by SourPatchKids
I mean it's not like I was scared to play physical, more of scared to seem like a dick to my opponents or the parents watching up in the stands. Like after a hard foul I would always help the guy up and I even used to have a habit of apologizing to me. But as the second half started both teams were playing man and my coach told me something that surprised me: "If he's going to body you up like that then elbow the shit out of him, bloody his lip or something". Something sparked inside me and I felt like I could play the game with more freedom. I wasn't exactly say in the zone, I missed a couple of spot-up 3's I normally hit but down low in the paint me and my man were going at it like we were worst enemies. But after the game was over( we lost by 2) and we were shaking hands me with my busted nose and a couple of other scrapes/bruises and him who probably got kneed in the thighs and took a crapload of forearms courtesy of me acted like nothing happened and turns out he's a real nice guy off the court.
I'm still working on it but I realized if i ever want to play at a higher level I can't be a nice guy once I step on the court.
There's a lot of truth to your realization here. I went through a lot of similar thoughts myself. When I was in 9th and 10th grade, I used to think about how it logically made no sense to show displeasure with an official's call (because the call is never going to be reversed). I also took into account that no matter how mean opponents seemed, they were likely just playing the game, so I took that in stride.
Basically, I played hard, but I fought myself to never react to an official's call, not get involved with an opponent's intensity and more or less react to virtually nothing that was happening on the basketball court. Logically, it often made sense but in terms of my on-court effectiveness, I hand-cuffed myself by forcibly not
letting my emotions run free a bit. Here's my embarrassing example - my teammate scored a game-tying basket with just 1 second remaining and while my teammates were celebrating, I fought every ounce of my body to not
celebrate because I knew the game wasn't over yet: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5cIv4IgLByA
As you realized, what tends to happen when we let ourselves go a bit, even if it's sometimes illogical, is our adrenaline spikes and our competitive spirit sky rockets. We're able to trick ourselves into believing there's a lot more on the line than there really is, which allows us then to dig deeper and perform with a sense of desire and urgency. Whereas, sometimes if we're always reminding ourselves it's just a game, we may be putting ourselves at a disadvantage.
For me, tapping into that next level meant letting myself fist-pump after a crucial block. Or maybe raising my fist in celebration after a clutch basket. It even meant responding to a poor call by an official, even though I knew nothing would be done about it, only because letting that emotion out will often keep me engaged in the game. It also meant not concerning myself with building friendships with opponents during games. The real ball players understand there's no friendship on the hardwood. As you discovered, those real guys understand there's a difference between "on the court" and "off the court". Let yourself run free.