Friday, March 04, 2005

sports and levels of play

I'm playing in a women's rec league for basketball, where we are easily the worst team in the league. Last season, we won one game. Naturally, some of my teammates are discouraged, and aren't all that excited about returning for next season. I think the problem is that we're improving, since we play against better teams all the time, but our confidence is shot.

My tennis coach used to say that 1/3 of the time, you should play against someone worse than you, 1/3 of the time, you should play against someone at your level, and 1/3 of the time, you should play against someone better than you. The reason is that all of those situations are useful to improving your game. When you play against a weaker opponent, you learn not to play down to the level of your competition, and you raise your confidence. When you play against a stronger opponent, you improve more quickly, because it raises your level of play. And, of course, playing against people your level is the best; both sides benefit, and it's fun all around.

Unfortunately, there aren't a lot of women's basketball leagues for players who just learned to play a couple of years ago.

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