Learn­ing to fin­ish a big step for teams

The Compass - - SPORTS - Ni­cholas Mercer Ni­cholas Mercer is a re­porter and pho­tog­ra­pher with The Com­pass. He lives in Bay Roberts and can be reached at nmercer@cb­n­com­pass.ca

The Fat Quit­ters had a com­fort­able 15-point lead in their first round play­off game with the Clangers in St. John’s Ama­teur Bas­ket­ball League divi­sion 4 play.

They built the lead with the help of some savvy ball move­ment, hot shoot­ing and a bit of sound de­fence.

Ev­ery­one was feel­ing good and their for­mi­da­ble op­po­nent was left scram­bling. Then, the shots stopped fall­ing, they went long stretches with­out a bucket and the Clangers crawled back into the game.

Play­ers got com­fort­able, stopped get­ting back on de­fence and be­fore the half­way point of the third quar­ter what was a 15point lead had evap­o­rated into a one-point ad­van­tage.

It’s some­thing that’s hap­pened be­fore. The Quit­ters — made up of play­ers from the Trin­ity-Con­cep­tion-Pla­cen­tia re­gion — had re­lin­quished big leads be­fore.

It hap­pens. Guys run hot and cold dur­ing a game. The shots that go in dur­ing the first half, stop go­ing through the hoop in the third and fourth quar­ters.

Some teams just like mak­ing things hard on them­selves.

So, what’s the point telling you about a group of week­end war­riors?

I’m get­ting to that. First, let me tell you how things fin­ished.

The Quit­ters tight­ened things up, made their shots, found their de­fence and took care of the ball on their way to a 10point win.

Now, here’s the point in all this.

Sit­u­a­tions like the one the Fat Quit­ters found them­selves in hap­pens to teams ev­ery day, no mat­ter the sport.

Teams jump out to big leads and drop them. Some­times they lose the game and some­times they find a way to hang on and win.

The ones that can stop their op­po­nent’s mo­men­tum are the teams that know how to fin­ish games.

They’ve learned to re-fo­cus and re-ap­ply them­selves.

Ex­perts will tell you a team has to learn how to win be­fore they can be suc­cess­ful. A cru­cial part of that process is learn­ing how to fin­ish games.

It’s not an easy thing, re­vers­ing mo­men­tum in a game. When a team gets rolling, like a boul­der go­ing down­hill, leads shrink rather eas­ily.

If that lead be­comes a deficit, it can be next to im­pos­si­ble to re­gain the ad­van­tage.

How do you tell if a team has given up a big ad­van­tage?

Play­ers’ shoul­ders slump, their body lan­guage goes in the toi­let and they start fight­ing amongst each other.

Un­for­tu­nately, there is no play­book for help­ing play­ers with this sit­u­a­tion. You can only learn from hav­ing sur­ren­dered the big lead.

Cruis­ing to vic­tory doesn’t help ei­ther. Learn­ing how to fin­ish games only comes with hav­ing given up the big lead.

You can only learn from your mis­takes.

Once you get that un­der your belt, win­ning gets a lit­tle eas­ier.

“Teams jump out to big leads and drop them. Some­times they lose the game and some­times they find a way to hang on and win.”

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