When used correctly, the word counterproductive is, in itself, its antonym in purest form.


Set Play vs. A Sequence of Options

Kobe Bryant is the best player in basketball right now. This is obviously very debatable, but as far as I'm concerned, he is. Spike Lee, who may or may not hold the same opinion, made an hour and a half long documentary on him; Kobe: Doin' Work. It was an interesting documentary... It wasn't like "let's start from the beginning and show you where he was born". It also wasn't one of those "let's go through all the adversity he's overcome blah blah blah". He introduced it as "A day in the life of Kobe Bryant", but it wasn't that either. It was one game. He had about 30 cameras on Kobe, he mic'd him, and then once Spike Lee edited all the film, he had him comment on the video. So it was basically like watching the Lakers-Spurs game from Kobe's perspective with him commenting on it as it went. Very cool, actually. But anyways... There was one thing that Kobe said about the game and more specifically about how his team operates that stuck out to me. Something that he claimed made them a better team; set plays vs. a sequence of options.

A set play is a predetermined pattern the coach draws up for the players to run. Therefore, assuming the players run it correctly, the result of the play ultimately lies on the coach’s shoulders. A coach holds more responsibility for the success of the play than the players do. If the set play seems as though it is going to fail, a smart player will deviate from the play, but even if the player scores, the play itself still failed. Now, what Kobe refers to as a ‘sequence of options’ is not drastically different, however it holds important implications. These ‘options’ come from a set formation. One easy example of this is the triangle offense. Three players, in a triangle, and running different plays from there (I apologize if explaining that insulted your intelligence). This formation provides endless amount of possibilities for these three players. The slight difference that I speak of, however, is that the responsibility of success has shifted. Now, the coach runs the players through as many hypothetical scenarios that he can think of, and good coaches can usually hit close to all of them. But in the heat of the moment, it is ultimately up to the players to make the right decision, given the scenario they are presented with. So the coach, instead of dictating a set play, places more trust in his players by giving them a simple formation, putting in motion a ‘sequence of options’.

So, what am I getting at? If you’re a basketball coach, this is probably a conversation you would love to get into. If you’re not, you’re sincerely hoping that question is rhetorical. And it is. Because what Kobe’s comments got me thinking about, and what I’m trying to get at, is the mindset with which you approach your “offensive possessions”, if you will. And by that I mean an endless amount of different things: work, interactions, parties, dates, dentist appointments, weekends, a TV show… anything. This blog, for that matter. Because the way I see it, you can do one of two things. You can make up your mind beforehand of what you think these things are going to be, what they’re going to offer you, how you’re going to interact with them, or, you could go into them open-minded, trusting yourself to positively react to whatever the occasion throws at you. One important thing to remember is that there is always a defense. There are always going to be things or people that will get in the way of your perfect plan… whether you react optimistically or emotionally is entirely up to you.

I know this is getting long, and I’m sorry about that, but I must add that another way this could also be broken down is whether you go into these things selfishly wanting them to benefit yourself, or whether you’re making an effort to evaluate the ‘sequence of options’ that will mutually benefit everyone there; perhaps even at your own expense (I have to challenge you a little bit, right?) Lastly, and I promise that I actually mean that, I think one reason people insist on drawing up “set plays” is because they’re afraid of making the wrong decision, or not knowing how to act, in a situation that is foreign to them. Trust yourself. More likely than not, you’re a lot less confident in your ability to do so than you should be. You can easily make choices that will universally encourage; so do it.

I hope that connection wasn’t too much of a stretch, but that’s what it got me thinking about, and maybe this will help you figure out whether or not it’s something you should be thinking about. Hope you enjoyed it.