I’ve always been a very active person. As a kid, I remember having endless energy and playing games all day every day. No surprise, that my parents decided to turn to sports to calm me down. I remember very well how the search for a sport went: my mother took me to initiations in many different sports. Even during school holidays, me and my brother were always registered in a sport-camp. We tried everything: Football, Judo, Gymnastics, Bouldering, Tennis, Table tennis, Track & Field, Swimming, Baseball, Sailing, even Bowling… Although I liked all sports, I never stuck to one because my mother had a slight personal vendetta against organized sports and competition.
Apparently though, when I was around 6 years old, I got pretty good at throwing a ball through a hoop, so people started telling my mother I really should join a basketball club. Luckily, she did the right thing and took me to a try-out. Ever since, I’ve been in love with the game of basketball. I have been lucky enough to compete at a decent level throughout my youth and after a couple of injuries and choices in life, I can now look back on my ‘career’ in a positive light. Not only because I enjoyed playing the game, but because it has taught me so much.
Why playing in team is particularly interesting
Before I take a deeper dive into the many skills I’ve learned to master, just by playing basketball at a competitive level, I want to elaborate a little bit on what makes basketball a particularly interesting sport.
Basketball is a team sport, which means that you are forced to accept the strengths and weaknesses of your teammates. Unlike in sports like tennis or swimming, you don’t control competitive succes by yourself. This can be confronting in two ways: either you suck and have to deal with being the weakest link on the team, or you’re super talented and have to learn how to accept the inferior play of your teammates.
Even after just accepting that you can’t win a team-game by yourself, which is already quite a big step, you can still grow more useful skills:
You’ll learn how to motivate your teammates to become better. You’ll learn how to communicate effectively in stressful situations. You’ll learn how to deal with your own emotions, and those of your teammates. You’ll learn to handle victory and defeat, and you’ll be confronted with the fact that every person handles both differently.
During a basketball career, you gain incredibly valuable experience. It improves your social skills and helps you stay calm during intense moments. Having adrenaline pumping through your veins while making decisions that could impact the final result of a game really is a great way to get to know yourself.
Especially for me, having started my own company (Rockhopper Socks, if you’re new here), I feel like my basketball education has helped me immensely. Knowing how to push through adversity. Knowing that giving up when you’re down is pointless. My basketball coaches are right up there with my business mentors, when it comes to teaching me how to run a company.
If you play, or have played, a team sport, you know I’m right. If you haven’t yet, try it. Try to play in a competitive environment. Even if you are not particularly good at sports, I promise you’ll reap the benefits. Very quickly!