Move Without The Ball

I have always loved sports.  I enjoy them in general, but grew up playing a lot of basketball, so it holds a special place in my heart.  The great thing about sports, especially team sports, is the invaluable life lessons you learn along the way.  Having so much experience around the game of basketball causes me to look at games a little differently.  When most people think of basketball they primarily think of scoring points. For me, one of the greatest lessons I learned throughout the years is the importance of moving without the ball.  I think this mentality can be translated over into our lives and how we live it as well.

Basketball is obviously a team sport, and for a team to be as successful as it can be, it must involve all players doing their job, no matter what it is.  Yes, your team needs to be able to score, and it certainly helps to have dominate players on your team who are skilled at scoring baskets.  However, it is rare that a single player on your team can consistently carry your team to victory on their own while his or her teammates just stand around and watch.  Consistent team scoring and ultimately consistent team winning will only occur when every offensive player decides to move without the ball…Even if it means they might not actually touch it.

Moving without the ball is a decision.  It is a mentality.  I am not talking about moving for movements sake, but moving with purpose.  Strategic movement.

When the coach calls in a play from the sideline, you are expected to run that play.  For the play to be successful, as stated before, all five players must move with purpose.  If half your teammates are standing around watching, the play will break down very quickly.  Moving without the ball creates spacing, it causes the defense to get out of position, it creates mismatches that the defenders can’t adjust to, it gives your team open looks at the basket, while being stagnant produces nothing but turnovers.

Stagnation is your opponent’s best friend.  If you aren’t moving, the defense doesn’t have to worry about you. You are no threat. Your position becomes irrelevant and they do not have to defend against you. At that point, they can focus on double teaming your teammates.  The enemy of our souls wants to paralyze our offense.  He wants us to believe we have nothing to contribute to the offense if we aren’t scoring the baskets.  He wants to demoralize us and minimize our significance…and he is really good at this.

It is human nature for us to want to stand around if we don’t have the ball. Maybe we sulk a little bit if we aren’t scoring all the baskets. Maybe we are not as motivated if we know we aren’t going to be the one to have the points show up in the stat sheet next to our name.  However, we must remember that it is not about us individually as much as it is about the team. We are all a part of a greater collective.  Sometimes it isn’t glamorous.  Moving without the ball will not show up in the newspaper.  The masses may not recognize your contribution to the offense, but ultimately your team will be much more successful in the long run.

I think in a practical sense, we could apply some of these same principles to what we do where we work, in our families, in our careers, or just in life in general.  How many times have I found myself sulking because I felt invisible in the offensive scheme…pulling levers behind the scene just to ensure my teammate would get an easy dunk?  Sometimes, trotting around without much of a sense of purpose in the offense and just going through the motions, ultimately becoming more of a hindrance to the execution of the play than a contributor.

We cannot just stand there and wish we had the ball. We must get moving, get open, position ourselves to receive a pass, go set a screen then roll to the basket, position ourselves for a rebound, go get a garbage basket.  Be a decoy and be OK with it.  Draw the defense toward ourselves and allow our teammates to get an easy shot.

You may get an easy basket yourself just by moving and wearing out the defense or simply because you were where you were supposed to be. But if not, let’s be OK with not scoring ourselves but being happy that our teammate did.

What matters in the end is a W in the win column, not points next to your name.  Yeah, sometimes your team may lose a game, but knowing you played your role at 100% is all you can do.  Sometimes you may drop the ball or run the wrong play.  You might actually be the one that caused a turnover, but don’t hang your head and let that mistake affect the next play.  Refocus and keep going.  As Paul said in Philippians 3:13-14, “…I focus on this one thing:  Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on…”.

As followers of Jesus…we go into the game knowing we have the winning strategy. Our coach calls nothing but winning plays. Let’s execute the plays and move with purpose. Let’s not help the devil out by standing around feeling sorry for ourselves that nobody noticed what we did.

Your contribution may not show up on a highlight reel, but I guarantee you The Coach notices. When you just keep doing what He tells you to do, you won’t really leave the floor at all except to take necessary breathers from playing so hard.

Move with purpose and don’t let the enemy minimize it.  When he comes taunting you, just point to the scoreboard.  Remind him that you already have the W and he will always keep that L.