What’s Poise Got To Do With It?

Basketball is an action-packed game.  If you’ve ever heard someone describe a D1 college or NBA basketball game, the first thing people normally discuss is the size of the players and how quick the game is played.  There’s no denying it, we’re talking about the best of the best athletes in the sport running, jumping and shooting from long distance. All of this happens and the players make it look effortless. What may throw you for a loop (you may or may not be thinking about this) is that every player seems to be playing with poise.  Huh? What’s poise got to do with it? Well for starters, let’s define poise. Simply put, poise is graceful balance and control. Now, let’s break it down on all 3 levels: Mind, Body, and Spirit to show how it’s possible for you to play with the same level of awareness.

Poise of Mind

Poise of the mind is supported by every player paying attention to details.  This means there’s buy-in to the in-game goals; everything from player assignments offensively and defensively to making spur of the moment changes.  At these levels, there’s not of lot of questioning of belief. You change as the game requires or sit the bench. Which one do you prefer? Another element that’s at play is that the behavior patterns at this level are tightly wound around discipline. There’s a saying that I remember from coaches. It went like this, “Do what you do best and forget the rest.” Players at the top levels do not chase mistakes, they chase making the next play their best play. Active mental toughness is balance and control of emotions that allows players to think soundly in the moment.

Poise of Body

Develop a sound mind and your (physical) body will follow.  Players that know their roles and positions are not moving randomly; they are moving with intention. One of the best lines I use to remind players of poise of their body is, “Be 1 second late on offense”  My former college coach used to say that so often, I hear it as I type these words to share with you. In this area, we can marvel at what the body does.  The best example I can think of is watching Steph Curry warm up before games. It’s such a big deal that fans get to games early just to watch him shoot shots from 25 feet and beyond. He sometimes even shoots a shot from the tunnel that leads to the locker room.

Poise of Spirit

This is the most important of the three levels of poise.  Poise of spirit allows players to get over losses or failures and jump right back into being available for their team. They have no time for dwelling on what did NOT happen.  They watch opportunities through film study, take notes, and practice process improvement.  In college, there’s a 30 + game season, depending upon postseason play. In the NBA, it’s 82 games.  Spirits must be flowing and resonating on high notes to stay readily available to play at high levels of awareness daily.  

So there you have it, poise with a holistic approach has a lot to do with playing your highest levels of basketball through grace, balance, and control.