What is a ‘Feel for the Game’?

We hear about its importance, yet it’s hard to define. We highly value it, yet it’s hard to quantify. Elite players have a tremendous feel for the game, but what about coaches?

Feel in basketball is sometimes hard to identify. Hard to quantify. It is more than just looking at assists and turnovers to determine if the player can understand who is open and who is not. A feel is the ability to slow the game down, to understand not only what is happening, but also what is going to happen next.

So much time is spent on the technical components of the game. The shooting mechanics. Learning a new move. Learning a new play. But the ability to transfer technical skills and drills to competitive game play is ultimately (and quite literally) “the game.” Tactical application is recognizing and developing that feel for the game.

A coach’s feel for the game is as important as the players’. We can go to clinics and hear about what successful coaches are doing that works for them. We can get on Twitter and see millions of plays that look pristine in their edits. We can read books about leadership, and biographies about coaches, and acquire as much technical knowledge about X’s and O’s, program building, and leadership as we can.

But our success is dependent on our ability to apply what we know to our system, and to our players. An artistic blend of being genuine to who we are and what we stand for while still learning and growing; to enabling and empowering our players to own the success of “their team,” while ensuring they’re doing so in a productive manner; negotiating elements of individuality while promoting sacrifice and cohesion.

X’s and O’s are the easy part. Developing that feel, that’s the tough part. It requires depth of knowledge with our concepts, the ability to communicate and to lead, self-awareness and the ability to be vulnerable to our team. But it’s also the most rewarding, and is essential for sustained success.

That’s the motivation for this site. An opportunity for coaches to contribute, to think, to learn, to be the best versions of ourselves. So we can give our best to our teams.

2 Comments on “What is a ‘Feel for the Game’?

  1. Great idea! I’m looking forward to seeing what works for other coaches and what I can pick up to use with our kids.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Pingback: The 4 Pillars of Player Development – Feel for the Game

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