A while back, I suggested that players in the preseason should spend as much time working on defending a ball-handler as they do working on their shot. My suggestion fell on deaf ears. Why would players want to do that? It’s hard enough to get them in the gym, why would they do that on their own? I would hope that it’s because they want to play, but for most players, it’s all about scoring. While I spend most of my time coaching offense, I still believe that defense is the key to consistent winning. My encouragement for players beginning practices soon is to let your shooting and scoring come, but take the time, right now, to be come a better defender.
Consider the NBA’s Tony Allen. Playing behind Paul Pierce with the Celtics early in his career, Allen found the only way to get on the floor was to become a supreme defender. He parlayed that skill into becoming one of the most respected defenders in the league playing for the Memphis Grizzlies. His passion for defense, as outlined in a Sports on Earth article from 2013 entitled All D, All Day, provides several keys for all players to become better defenders. Here are five aspects of defenders like Allen:
- Focus – Admit you can get better and focus on getting better, every day and in every drill.
- Strength – Defending requires physical strength. Don’t forget the weight room – ever!
- Study & Prepare – Allen studies his opponents – on film, in games, and even against teammates in practice. Go to school!
- Control – Take control of the player you’re defending. Force them our of their comfort zone and don’t leave it to referees or teammates to bail you out. Take responsibility.
- Overcome – When you give up a score, bounce back. When you make a mistake, make up for it.
Just like Tony Allen’s approach to being a great defender, each of us can learn to responsibly handle sexual temptation within a culture that is in complete contrast to God’s plan. How do you do that?
- Focus – Admit you’re in a battle. Don’t rationalize it or excuse it. Work at it – now.
- Strength – Condition yourself by staying in God’s Word and surrounding yourself with others who recognize the difficulties of living responsibly. God will provide all the support you need.
- Study & Prepare – Recognize your opponent is temptation and prepare to do battle everyday. Understand the messages of our culture. Read Lay Aside the Weight of Lust, a terrific discussion from Desiring God for more encouragement and understanding.
- Control Make a commitment to live morally pure by God’s standard from this day forward. That means having sex only with the person to whom you’re married.
- Overcome -When you do act irresponsibly, God is waiting to forgive, cleanse, and restore you. He’ll release you from the shame, regrets, the hidden hurts, and the pain that come from your sin so you don’t carry them into your relationships.