Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Racquet vs. Basket

Last week there was no racquetball, since UNT closed the courts down for Spring Break. Instead, one of the usual racqueteers -- who also happens to be a high school coach -- opened up her school's old gym so that we could play basketball. And now, after having played full-court basketball four days in the past week, I present to you my Top Five Reasons I Would Rather Play Racquetball Than Basketball*

#5. I'm Not in "Basketball" Shape: The brief sprints and bursts of speed** required in racquetball have done little to prepare me for the continual running up and down the court in basketball; I'd hate to think of how horribly I would have done if I hadn't been playing racquetball regularly for the past few months. And yes, I know that basketball is great exercise, and if I keep playing then I will get in better shape; I'm just saying that, right now, when everyone else I'm playing against is running circles around my wheezing, out-of-breath frame, it's a bit depressing.

#4. Just Call Me Cap'n Lone Wolf : I think one of the biggest factors in me enjoying racquetball so much is that it's a solo sport; if I screw up, I don't have to worry about letting down anybody but myself. But in b-ball, I suddenly have three or four people depending on me to carry my weight on the team, so that every missed shot, every botched pass, every lost rebound reverberates in my neurotic little mind. I'm often too worried about messing things up for everyone else to really enjoy myself.

#3. I Actually Know the Racqueteers: You have absolutely no idea how much my heart sank that first night of playing basketball when I realized it wasn't just going to be just a few of the Singles playing, but a wide array of people I'd never met before. Call me crazy if you must, but I really don't relish the thought that the first impression someone is going to have of me is going to be derived by how I play basketball; at least with the Singles I know that they know more about me than just "wow, that guy stinks at this game." Take this and mix it my fear of dragging the team down, and suddenly I'm even more self-conscious than usual.

#2. Simplicity Over Strategery: Another thing I like about racquetball is how straightforward gameplay is: I hit the ball, my opponent hits the ball, I hit the ball, etc. until one of us misses. Sure, there are angles to consider, and your opponent's strengths and weaknesses and court position and all that good stuff, but when there's just two people hitting the ball back and forth, I can kinda-sorta focus on that stuff. But with basketball, you suddenly have all of these other people involved, moving around constantly, trying to coordinate a plan of attack and hoping that their teammates are on the same wavelength. Defense I can handle, since all I have to do is focus on my person and stick to him or her as best I can but on offense, I'm practically useless; while some may look at the swirl of bodies in motion and be able to formulate the most effective play option, all I see is mass chaos. Most offensive plays see me standing out to the side, hoping that someone else on my team scores quickly so I can go back to guarding someone and feel like I'm on solid ground again.

And the number 1 reason I prefer racquetball to basketball is:

#1. I Suck Less at Racquetball: I may not be the best at racquetball, but at least I can hold my own with most of my regular opponents; and, even when I get my butt stomped, I generally make my opponent work for it. But in basketball my skill level is so far below that of everyone else I'm playing with and against that I have a hard time enjoying myself because I feel so out of place. The reason that my basketball skills are practically non-existent is that I never really learned how to play. Remember, young Cap'n Neurotic avoided all physical activity like the plague growing up, and therefore was never tutored on the correct mechanics of shooting or dribbling; heaven help me if I try to actually run with the ball. Things that are second natue to everyone else are like a foreign language to me. Yeah, I learned a little bit of how to play when I was in college, but (a) it's not like my friends gave me long coaching sessions on proper shooting techniques and such and (b) prior to last Wednesday it's probably been about 12 years since I've played a game of full-court basketball, meaning what little skill I may have developed at the time has definitely atrophied. So, my lack of offensive strategy and failure to hone the most basic techniques combine for much suckage on my part.

All that being said, I'm still going to keep playing basketball as long as they keep inviting me along. After all, it's good exercise, and a good way for me to work on combating my self-consciousness regarding physical activities. I just wish I could find a group of people who were closer to my level to play against so that I could have a better chance to improve my skills.

Unfortunately, there just aren't that many opportunities for pick-up games with 3rd and 4th graders.

*Why only five? Because I'm pretty sure having reasons 6-10 be "I totally suck" would be a bit redundant.
**And, since it's me we're talking about here, I use the term "speed" very, very loosely


Zinger said...

I thought is was only 5 reasons because:

10 would make the Man nervous;
The Man wants to deprive you of 10;
The Man would never give you 10 of anything;
That's all the time you've got between the showings of "Malcolm X";
10 would make The Man lose sleep.

Redneck. Diva. said...

Hey, I admire you for getting out there and playing even if you think your skill level is lacking! A few summers ago I got this wild idea that I could play on our church's softball team even though I loathe base/softball. But I did because my friends were and it sounded like fun. I hit a line drive between 2nd and 3rd in the first practice and everyone ooh'd and aah'd at their "secret weapon".

Then I went up to bat in our first game, choked at bat, struck out, left the game in tears and refused to play in the second game.

Yeah, I'm not a good team player.

PigPen said...

Todd, Todd, Todd, Todd, Todd............ What am I going to do with you? Remind me to give you a good thump on the head when I see you next. Here is my counter to your Five:

Top 5 Reasons Todd Should Continue To Play Basketball:

5. NONE OF US ARE IN BASKETBALL SHAPE! While Alex, myself and a few others might run up and down the court more than others, there are PLENTY of times when we are away from the ball and catching our breath, not moving at all. It takes time and you are able to run more than when we started, I see that and I'm telling you that playing like that will get you into "Basketball Shape."

4. As to the Lone Wolf complex...... I can't do anything about that. But I can tell you that EVERYONE feels crappy when they mess up because there ARE 4-5 other people on your team. Somewhere along the line, tho, they are going to mess up just like you did. They know that and that's why they don't say anything or doing anything negitive when it happens. It's going to happen to everyone at some point in time.

3. I am just as weary as you playing someone I don't know at basketball...... ESPECIALLY if they have any skill at it. I didn't play basketball in Jr. High or High School..... I Wrestled. What little basketball skill I have is picked up from watching other people or what I picked up prior to 1993! I'm sure everybody we are playing with/against has some reservance playing with strangers. You don't know how they play and you don't want to look like a jackass in front of them. Your not alone. Get to know them and 'POOF' that feeling is gone. Next Question! ;-)

2. Most of the time...... it IS just a massive swirl of bodies with no plan, meaning, rythm or rhyme. If there is a plan, it is usually just between 2 people and most of the time each person is thinking a DIFFERENT plan than everyone else. That's the fun part...... watching everyone bump into each other and try to make sense of it. ;-) And despite what you might think, your shot is improving everytime we go. You actually have a better shot than Larry right now (which I know isn't saying alot, but you are getting better!). The strategy and lay of the land will come. Basketball is a game of repetition...... which is why I hate it so much! LOL ;-)

And the Number 1 reason why Todd Should Continue To Play Basketball......

1. YOU ARE GETTING BETTER AT BASKETBALL EVERYTIME YOU STEP OUT THERE! I have been thoroughly impressed with how quickly you have picked up shooting the ball. If your worried about dribbling.... just watch me. I might be able to run with the ball but when it comes to control..... that's where I have to work on my game. I said it earlier...... Basketball is a game of repetition. No one can step out there and do good on their first try. It just doesn't happen. Keep playing, you'll continue to get better and before long people will be guarding you like they do Alex for fear that you can shoot the ball from anywhere.

I have spoken my piece and counted to 3. ;-) lol Get that negitive attitude out of your head. It doesn't serve you any purpose or benefit. Replace it with resolve and determination that no matter what, your going to work hard and eventually be better than every one else. I know that your reading this thinking/saying to yourself, "Yea right." I know you too well. But start small and work your way up and you will be surprised. Trust me! (Alot to ask.... I know) ;-)

Flunky lover said...

I have to say that PigPen put up a great response. I agree with him 100%. While everything he said is true it can be difficult to remember on the court when it feels like everybody is running circles around you. I wonder if there was somebody you played with last week that admired a play you made or wished he could be more like you.

Cap'n Neurotic said...

Zinger: I had considered doing a more overt Nat X reference in the post, but decided against it; glad to see you had my back.

Diva: As someone with a horrible outsider complex, I think I can safely say that the only thing I've never felt bad about not being invited to do is play on any sort of city or church league team; if I get this worked up over playing for "fun," can you imagine if there were trophies involved? *shudder*

PigPen: Yeah, my rebuttal to your rebuttal will take probably require a post in and of itself. Still waiting for that slap upside the head, though . . .

Flunky Lover: "PigPen put up a great response"? No, don't encourage him, his ego's big enough! ;) But you're right about it being hard to keep those things in focus when I'm out on the court.