Experimenting with Toughness

In the middle of shooting drills at Tuesday’s practice, Karina Aguilera turned to me, with the intention to tell me something:

“During the last game I noticed-”

She was cut off, quickly running to take her turn at a 3-pointer in the line. Ten minutes later we were able to continue the conversation:

“In the last game, I noticed something: the opposing team was easily able to steal the ball from you…small swats and off rebounds.”

I noted Karina A.’s body language: she was facing me fully and making strong eye contact.

She continued, “Now, we have been training together for six months and I know that you are one of the strongest players on the team-physically speaking. Work on that! Defend the ball when you are dribbling and really grab on to those rebounds.”

I nodded, trying to be open-minded with the advice that was given to me.

This topic came up again that night at practice, this time from Cate. After finishing a defence drill, we were all taking a small break when Cate made eye contact with me. She raised her voice, trying to get everyone’s attention over the general chatter:

“Everyone see that last 2-on-2 run with Maria Rosa and Cinthia? Grabbing the rebound is important. Cinthia-if you would be more aggressive, your game would be another story.”

Everyone looked at me and I could see some nods. Karina A. jumped in, still having momentum from our last conversation:

“You have to be mean!”

A couple of the girls laughed and so did I.

“But I’m not mean…it isn’t me!” I replied.

I have questioned the whole aggressiveness debate before and I wonder if it is a characteristic someone is born with or if it is something you can work on. I brought my dilemma to my ball friend Angel, needing a second opinion.

“I can’t be mean. During games, when players from the opposite team fall down, I go and help them get up. I don’t even get angry after losing. I’m pretty sure that I have 0% of inborn aggressiveness.”

“You don’t have to be mean, but yes aggressive. And it is something you can work on it,” he reassured me, “but you have to bring it out and exercise it. First, in a comfortable setting, like practice. And then later, during games.”

What is your opinion on aggressiveness or toughness? Is it something practised or inborn? How do you bring out your toughness during sports and games? Any visualizations or rituals? Any comments are welcome.

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6 responses to “Experimenting with Toughness

  1. Eyyy, you are aggressive, just need to bring it to the court!!! Next time you will end the 1-1 with no points!!! let’s see if u dont bring it!!! jeje

    un beso!

  2. lacinti,
    what’s that saying, ‘nice guys(gals) finish last’? It’s all about finishing, and not letting anyone get in your way. Layups, games, stories. Aggressiveness is crucial in sports, but I like that you give a hand to someone down. That’s just good sportmanship. Great writing, keep it going!

  3. I think a certain amount of agressiveness is inborn and some is learned. In Bball I would take a tough agressive player with average abilities over a highly skilled and timid player, every time. Toughness usually comes from within and is not defined by the way you walk or talk. When I play I am normally the most agressive player on the floor. This rubs some the wrong way but after a while people realize my good intentions. Anytime anyone goes down I am the first to help them up. It is one of the most important parts of the competition, showing respect.

    Its funny when someone comes on the court and plays as physical as me. I feel relieved knowing the game will be more fun and there will be less crying. These types of players are usually the ones who don’t call the ticky tack fouls and just love the competition.

    Bringing out the agressiveness or tougness can get difficult game in and game out. Before games in College I sometimes lifted light weights and jumped rope. Being warm and ready was the most important part for me. I usually sweat through one undershirt before the game even started. The process of getting ready and in that “mood” started in the morning for me, 10 hours or so before a game.

    • Yeah..I remember you telling me how much Argentine ballers whine..haha. I agree that mental preparation starts wayyy before the game. I am kind of experimenting with that on game days: when I wake up that morning (still in bed), I try to think about my game and visualize how I’m going to play. I think it helps..but I think I also just need to keep playing. Thanks for the comment Pat!

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