Basketball is Psychology XXII
“If what you did yesterday still looks big to you, you haven't done much today.”
— Mike Krzyzewski
What are you more committed to?…
The future or the past?
To what’s ahead of you or what’s behind you?
To next season or last season?
The next play or the last play?
The next shot or the last shot?
Life moves in one direction, and basketball moves in one direction- forward.
It’s important to learn from the past and appreciate the past, but you can’t live in the past.
Great basketball players are far more committed to the future than the past. No matter what happens, failure or success, they stay committed to the future.
Kobe Bryant was one of the greatest basketball players of all time. When he retired in 2016, he had a choice:
A.) He could be committed to the past. He could’ve been complacent. He could’ve relished in his illustrious career, sat around and reminisced on the glory days. He has made enough money to where he could’ve lived on vacation for the rest of his life.
B.) He could be committed to the future. He could use the lessons he learned in the past to create a better future. He could keep moving forward, keep working, and keep believing the best is yet to come.
Kobe chose to commit to the future. He found his next passion and put his otherworldly work ethic to use in his other endeavors. He’s already started an academy, written a few books, and won an Oscar, a feat some work their whole lives for and never achieve.
This wasn’t a first for Kobe, being committed to the future is the story of his career. No matter how many championships he won, how many injuries he had, or how many airballs he shot, he always showed up the next day, ready to work harder, rise earlier, and stay later than anyone else. Nothing could deter him from taking the next step towards the future he wanted.
Our human tendency is to stay committed to the past, especially when the present is challenging. There is a phenomenon known by psychologists as “rosy retrospection” which refers to our tendency to disproportionately remember the good times. It’s counterintuitive to fully commit to what’s ahead of you because it’s so tempting to relish in the past. This is why leveling up is so hard, we get stuck in the past. Instead of being eager to improve, highly ranked players come into college their freshman year, and they spend all their time thinking about how great they were in high school, thinking they can coast because of what they achieved.
If you are not intentional about getting better and moving forward, you will find yourself drifting, and drifting only moves you backwards.
Being committed to what’s ahead of you means you have an attitude that is always looking forward, believing your best days are ahead, and a work ethic that backs up that belief.
The one constant in basketball is change. It’s a game of constant adjustments, and if you are not committed to the future, constant growth, and change, you’re going to lose. The game keeps going, you can’t get stuck in the past.
How do you know if you’re committed to the future or the past?
Are you a know-it-all or a learn-it-all? Know-it-alls are done learning, they’re committed to the past, to what they already know. Learn-it-alls are committed to the future, no matter how much they know or how much they’ve accomplished, they want more. Know-it-alls never get better, learn-it-alls always get better.
The words “We’ve always done it this way” are not in the vocabulary of a forward-committed player or coach; they aren’t scared of trying new things to better their future.
Maintain the attitude of a student of the game, not an expert.
When you’re thinking about the next play, it shows in your body language. You’re not sulking or whining about the last play. Instead of reacting negatively, you’re engaged in the present and by focusing on the next play, you’re ahead of the game. The game of basketball does not stop and wait for you to get over something. The game keeps going, and if you’re complaining about the last play, you are behind, the game will move on with or without you.
Your work ethic:
When you’re committed to the future, no amount of success can keep you from working towards the future, and no amount of setbacks can either. Those who are committed to the future work hard to keep making progress, learning, and growing.