The Importance of Every Possession in a Basketball Game

This poem was posted by Alan Stein on his Stronger Team Blog.

Here is what he had to say about getting the importance of one possession across to your players.

One of the key concepts of ‘Playing Present’ is the ability to focus on the next play… the play right in front of you. On defense that means that this stop is the only stop that matters. This stop is the most important stop of the entire game. The same is true on offense. This possession is crucial. We need to get a great shot on this possession. Players and teams who master ‘Playing Present’ will maximize their basketball ability.

This poem below sums up the ‘Playing Present’ concept perfectly:

The video at the right is a six minute video of Alan covering the concept of playing in the present with a group of players:

One Possession

It was written by Jeff Smith when he was an assistant at the University of Dayton. He is currently the Head Coach at Madison High School in Middletown, Ohio.

It was only one possession,
Why must my coach scream,
My poor defense permitted the basket
But what can one hoop mean?
As the pass comes my direction,
And I fumble it into the stands,
The coaches voice rings loud and clear,
“Catch with your eyes and hands!”
C’mon coach, it’s a single possession,
Our team will be ok.
It’s just the first two minutes,
My gosh we’ve got all day.

At the 10 minute mark I remember,
That center is strong and stout
A putback for two, quite simple due
To my failure to turn and blockout.
But it was only one possession,
I didn’t commit a crime,
My team is ahead and I’m playing well,
And there’s still plenty of time!

As the halftime buzzer is sounding,
And I watch the ball bank in,
I know I will hear from my loving coach
Of my questionable effort to defend.
But it was only one possession
Coach-don’t have a heart attack!
We’re down by one, but we’re having fun,
I know we’ll get the lead back!
The second half mirrors the first,

But it’s early, it’s not a big deal,
That my failure to use a pass fake,
Results in an unlikely steal.
But quickly I sink a jumper,
I’m greeted by high fives and slaps,
But the next possession I give up a layup.
I guess I had a mental relapse.
But it’s only one possession,
C’mon Coach, “Chill Out.”
It’s crazy to see you disgusted
As you slap the assistant and shout.
“Victory favors the team making the fewest mistakes.
Single possessions are the key.
So treat them like gold and do as your told,
And play with intensity.”

I step to the line for one and one,
But I’m having a concentration lapse.
The ball soars through the air, I’ve shot it too hard,
I’m afraid the support will collapse.
In post game I sit at my locker,
Pondering what more could I do.
I realize the value of a single possession,
What a shame that we lost by two.

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