Thursday, November 15, 2012

Tolerating Ambiguity

With the our first game coming up on Friday evening, and our plans to be on the road recruiting several nights a week, our practices and this blog are, of necessity, about get shorter.

A player stopped by the office today to ask some questions about practice, and to express concern that some aspects of the System were still confusing to her and some of her teammates.  "How do we know who to pick up in the press?  When do we rotate?  On offense, when do I attack the rim versus dribbling out to the arc?"

At the heart of all her questions is a desire for definitive answers.  Having heard these sorts of questions before, I'm sympathetic but not overly concerned.  The nature of playing a creative offense and defense (as opposed to a more structured and rigid style) is that many of the decisions are left to the players.  There is no "pattern" to learn, just principles and options.

I know this may be distressing for players who are used to the security and comfort a play-based set offense can give, but that's the price we pay (in the early season) for making the choice to base our game on choices.

Remember in the movie Miracle when Coach Herb Brooks is diagramming an offensive scheme for his hockey team before practice, showing them the multiple decisions they can make in just that one set.  He concludes by asking, rhetorically, "What does that give us, boys?  OPTIONS."

I worked for a great coach many years ago who told me on more that one occasion, "When you give a girl two options on a play, you've given her one option too many."

Insulting?  I don't know... he'd been very successful operating from that approach.  But I've since discovered that the System, though difficult to execute efficiently at first, eventually outpaces more regimented styles.  It's been one of the most satisfying things in my career to see how female athletes can learn to play with choices.  It is hard for them at first to tolerate the ambiguity, but when the light bulb goes on... wow!

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