Four Tips For Shooting A Basketball And Living

Many years ago I discovered there were four keys to shooting a basketball well:

  1. As you shoot, keep your elbow in and aligned with the center of your body
  2. The motion of your shooting arm should imitate a goose neck: first moving straight upward, then flicking the wrist, and ending with a clear follow through after the ball has left your hand
  3. Visualize the ball going through the basket as you release the ball

The first two keys relate to the physical motion, the mechanics, of shooting a ball, and they were a habit for me by eighth grade. The third key is mental, and in the 30 years I played basketball I found this aspect the easiest to forget and far away the most powerful influence on whether or not the ball went in the hoop.

I suspect most of you don’t care about how to shoot a basketball, but I do believe that shooting a basketball provides some good parallels with how to best live our lives:

  1. Align with your center: We often talk about becoming centered. We talk about the third chakra as our center of gravity. Centering is a way that we intentionally bring into awareness what we most value, why we are on the planet, and what our unique identity is as a human being. As you shoot a basketball, or as you contemplate action in your life, get into the habit of first aligning with your center.
  2. Live with upward motion and follow through: Upward motion in our lives is a way to think continually choosing our highest selves. In any moment, we can make a choice that expands or contracts our best selves. We can choose to think, feel and act from our souls rather than the roles that come from the expectations of others. When we gain clarity about what is our souls’ work, we then honor our highest selves by following through on practices and actions that move us toward our best selves.
  3. Visualize success: There are numerous studies in athletics that have found that visualizing success is more effective than physically rehearsing the sport. This is true whether it is shooting a basketball, a triple axel on skates, hitting a baseball, or a giant slalom ski run. Obviously, both the physical and mental practices are needed. But the mind’s capacity to influence reality is a stunning power that most of us disregard or forget. Brief visualizations that are carried out with a hopeful and emotionally positive spirit will change our experience of reality.

The fourth key to shooting a basketball and living well will cancel out the other three if it is not practiced. One of the powerful downsides of athletics and living is that people easily take them so damn seriously. The fourth key to basketball and life is to have fun playing the game. Aligning with our center, living with upward motion and follow through, and visualizing success are powerful methods for shooting and living. These efforts often fail, however, when we get critical of how we take these steps or of our failure to do them. All our actions get put in a different light when we are feeling playful. Playfully centering, acting out of our highest selves, and visualizing are a recipe for living a life that is easy, empowered and enriched. So go ahead, enjoy the game that is your life.

Categories Coaching, Evolutionary Spirituality, Vitality | Tags: | Posted on February 22, 2015

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