The sport that I chose to become more familiar with and improve at was basketball. I have often seen people playing small games of it in the gym and it appeared to be not only a good workout but an engaging and thorough workout. I found this to absolutely be the case, the proof was in my very sore shoulder and back muscles after the first day of playing. How I also found, and was pleasantly surprised by, was the social nature of the game as well. It is a great way to make some new friends, and the sportsmanship and camaraderie that is part of playing the game makes the time fly by while you’re playing.
The first day I jumped into a friendly pick-up game of a few guys at the gym was definitely difficult for me. I know the basics of the game and had played around with a basketball a few times, but actually applying the skills of dribbling and shooting to an actual game proved much harder for me than I initially had thought. I found myself getting too focused on what my hands or feet were doing, and this would result in me traveling with the ball, or having it stolen away by another player. Everyone I was playing with was really friendly though, and this helped relax me a little bit.
Physically after my first day playing, I was very stiff and sore. I found that there were certain arm and back muscles that I didn’t even know were there until they were aching when I woke up the next morning. The way I use my body when I play basketball requires all sorts of muscles that do not use in everyday life, or even when I do other exercise like lift weights of run on a treadmill. I found that if I stretched really well for about 15 minutes before playing I was much less sore afterwards.
What I learned was how to coordinate my ball skills in terms of passing, shooting and dribbling all while I was engaged with my team mates and opponents. I would say that I am still working on this set of skills, and am by no means a master, yet. I was able to improve my ability to dribble quite a bit, was felt really rewarding and made me much less frustrated with myself. Also my lay-up really got a lot better. It is hard to practice shooting a lay-up when you don’t have anyone trying to block you. It adds a whole new method to your approach when there in a body between you and the basket.
I started realizing what a unique culture the world of basketball really is. It has a very particular look and feel. The smell of rubber, and sweat in the gym. The squeak of your shoes on the wooded or rubberized floor. The echoing sound of the ball bouncing down the court, or the loud slam when it hits the backboard. These are all sights, sounds, and smells particular to the game of Basketball, and in this specific combination they are unmistakable.
The clothes are another interesting aspect of the game that are pretty unique as well. I realized I didn’t have any clothes that were really good for playing in. I discovered that I liked to have shorts or pants that were loose fitting and light weight so that I could move easily. The lighter your clothing the better because you get hot and tired easily from all the sprinting and the more controlled muscle work from shooting and dribbling.