Asking Profound Questions

As years and decades change, we keep asking the same questions.

To a degree, that’s necessary because we keep facing similar situations. There’s always a practice or a game coming up.

But for as long as the questions remain the same, the range of answers remains the same, too.

That’s why there’s an inherent value to asking novel profound questions.

They may turn out to be unanswerable, or their answers may be useless. Yet when asking novel questions we stand a chance to move on to novel viewpoints.

Novelty and profoundness are relative issues. If the question is novel or profound in our context, that’s good enough for us.

These are some examples that I’ve asked myself.

1) Why are so many games so close?

In any league, there are good teams, average teams and bad teams. Yet good teams sometimes lose to bad teams and they’ll play close games. Why are the bad teams able to hang in there with the good ones and sometimes beat them?

2) Why do great shooters miss so often?

The difference between a great and poor shooter may be just one make in ten shots. Why do great shooters miss so often? Why are there no shooters with their 3P% in the 60s?

3) Why is development so slow?

A player may practice for years, yet her efficiency remains the same or goes downhill. What keeps players anchored to where they are?

4) How could players get to use more of their skills?

Team tactics are designed to coordinate the players’ functioning into a collective performance. Yet the tactics also restrict which skills the players may use. How should team tactics be designed in order to better utilise the full scope of the players’ tactical and technical skills?

5) How can players improve their skills without getting fatigued?

Tactical and technical skills are most effectively improved when practice tasks are basketball-representative. However, those game-like tasks tend to fatigue players. This limits the time they can be used. How can we circumvent this contradiction?

6) What should the training facilities be like?

The organisations that have the money, build posh, grand training facilities. Yet most great basketball players have initially trained in modest facilities. Is this because most basketball facilities in the world are modest? Or because good-enough training facilities are a different thing from posh, grand facilities? If that’s so, what are optimal training facilities like?

7) How much should players talk on the floor?

Usually, coaches want their players to talk, or communicate more, to enhance the team’s collective functioning. Yet talking slows down players’ individual movement and reactions. As the game gets quicker and quicker, should players talk more and more? Or less and less?

8) Why do we use different offenses versus different defenses?

Team offenses are designed to react to whatever the defense does. No matter what the tactic is, the five defenders must be someplace. Yet coaches often run a special offense versus zone defense. Why? Shouldn’t the basic team offense work versus anything the five defenders may do?

9) Why are there  short players on top teams?

Being tall is an advantage in basketball. Yet there are relatively short players on most teams, even in the NBA where the clubs have all the money they need to hire only tall players. Why is it so? Is it because there are so many shortish players that some of them are bound to become great? Or is it something about the game that makes it an advantage for a team to have players of various sizes?

10) How would we play basketball based on the rules alone?

Basketball tradition helps us play effectively since it tells us what has worked in the past. But tradition also limits our thinking. What would happen if we’d never seen basketball be played but only read the rules and started playing? Would we come up with novel tactics and techniques now ignored because of the tradition?

11) What does embodied cognition imply?

The underlying assumptions of modern-day coaching comply with those of modern-day cognitive science. But what if we take embodied cognition seriously? Shouldn’t it change our coaching in a wide array of issues, from learning technical skills to utilising videos in game preparation? What should the change be like?

12) Can a 28% three-point shooting guard be recruited to play as a part of a 36% three-point shooting offense?

If you want for your team to be great at something, can you still recruit players who, as individuals, are not? For example, can you recruit a power forward with a low defensive rebound average for a team that is looking to dominate the boards? Can a 28% three-point shooting guard fit in a 36% three-point shooting offense? Obviously not? Perhaps, since if the team 3P% is 36% there are going to be players who shoot better than that and players who shoot worse.

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