When a play breaks down in basketball it takes about 2 seconds to realize “this isn’t going to end well”. I feel this is a very common thought in the pick-up basketball scene. And in my opinion, it happens the most when a player is up in the air and hasn’t landed yet. A mid-air collision if you will.
It’s scary and can result in some painful injuries. Just being out of control like that is frightening. And that’s what happened the other night to another player and me. But I suppose I should start at the beginning.
On that particular night, we were locked into a shootout with another team. The defense was there but everyone was on their game which elevated the level of play. On that team we were playing against there was another guy who’s a pretty strong leaper. Like me, he’s about two steps away from dunking. Unlike me, the entirety of his game, in terms of effectiveness lies in driving. Not passing, not team play, not slashing, just straight driving the lane with force.
A lot of times his layups went in because he got so high that it was a very easy path for the ball to travel. And because of his leg strength, he could sky over defenders….unless his defender could jump just as high. Enter me.
This guy wasn’t destroying us by any means but he was beating his defender on tough layups. His speed and the strength of his jump allowed him to get to the hoop faster than the help defense. However, on one play, he blew by his defender and I was close enough to help. That’s when things got dicey.
Having already watched him sky above people I figured I could counter by going straight up. Him, not having to deal with anyone with a similar vertical at that point, rose as if he was going to dunk it. I knew he wouldn’t but the idea was already planted in my mind. So instead of going straight up, I went to block the ball. In a surprise of how high I got, he shifted his body.
Timeout for a Quick Second.
Here’s the thing about jumping high: it’s incredibly dangerous and that’s by itself. The shorter you are the more dangerous it is. Now add in defenders and you have yourself an activity that causes most of the collision injuries that take place in basketball.
When you’re shorter it’s even worse, especially if you can jump high. This is mainly because there’s that much more space between you and the ground. Fall the wrong way and now you have real problems.
Most people have no clue how to fall correctly (yes that is a real thing). If you don’t have knowledge of how to, I’d strongly suggest researching it. About 20 minutes of your time can literally save you at some point in the future.
Where we left off.
When the guy shifted he did so in a way that indicated that he had no control. He kicked his legs out and fell sideways. The problem was his leg caught mine forcing me to fall too. However, I’ve learned how to fall properly and have solid reaction time when doing so. So this wasn’t as much of a problem for me. I was able to brace almost immediately while in mid-air. So when I fell, I was prepared and was able to “curl my body” to minimize potential injury. I hit the ground with a thud. But bracing myself kept me in one piece.
He did not brace at all.
Instead, he fell, hard, on his wrist and arm. While the whole thing looked bad, it sounded even worse. Sometimes a loud sound can almost certainly trigger your brain into thinking something awful happened. And this guy landed the way someone flops into the pool. Everyone, both in the game and waiting to play had a collective reaction like:
As I was fine, I got up and rushed over.
I asked if he was good and surprisingly he got up no problem. What was crazy was how he basically went back to playing the exact same way. No issues. No setbacks.
Myself on the other hand, well as I usually do, I went into safety mode. All it takes is for me to see an injury or almost get one and that’s it for me. I shoot the ball and set up teammates for the rest of the night and withheld from driving even once. Meanwhile, the guy who somehow managed not to get hurt was playing like the collision never happened.
Perhaps youth kept him from getting hurt. Maybe he actually did hurt himself but adrenaline pushed him to go on. Whatever it was I certainly know that I don’t have it and actually need to be mindful. Injuries at this point in my life are no joke and whatever I can do to avoid them I will.