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Perception = Reality, Not Necessarily Truth

by Ed Riley

As some of you know, I run a car dealership. I can hear you folks doing the car salespeople jokes now. "What do you do when you see a car salesman bleeding on the side of a road? Drive on by!" OK, I've heard the jokes.

Anyway, I was just sent to a 2 day class that cost my dealership $2,500. I don't know about you folks, but that's pretty expensive in my book. So what was I doing there when I wasn't trying to fall asleep, thinking basketball. What did I learn? Something to help me work on one of my team's major weaknesses. So it was a really good training session and learning session for me. (Yes, I'm a basketball rabid, sick puppy.)

My team has always been a what you see, is what you get. We play full court in-your-face defense every second of every game. We contest every inbounds pass. We depend on speed. Last, we will outrun you. We may be down by 12 at the half, and win by 12. Why? If you can't run full speed the whole game, you lose. A sidenote here, because of all of this, we are a fun team to watch.

If the coach of a team knows anything about us, then they try to play a slowdown game and this is where we lose a lot of games. We are a very straightforward one dimensional team. What you think it's going to be like, is what it will be, speed and m-2-m.

So I'm sitting in this training session learning all about customer satisfaction and trying to exceed a customer's expectations. All necessary in my line of work, but a widdle bit on da boring side.

The speakers flips the page on his flip chart and writes P = R, Not The Truth! Great, now we are learning algebra. Let's just design the trajectory of the next Mars probe while we're at it. The next thing he says catches my attention.

"P = perception. R = reality. So to our customers, Perception = Reality, but not necessarily the Truth. You dealers can bend over backwards to solve a customer's problem, but the customer may not think so. Their perception is reality to them.

At this point in time, my ears perk up and the sleep buggers in my eyes magically disappear. What's real doesn't matter to a customer. What matters is what they think is real. Sometimes their reality is what they think it should be.

Ummmm!!!! My basketball mind is a flutter with new/old horizons. This has got to apply to basketball is what my pea sized brain tells my elephant sized head. So what a team or a player thinks, is what they believe. Perception = Reality to them.

I remembered a game we played several years ago. We were playing against a highly touted team we had never played before. They were supposed to have great guards, and our rep was our speed. So I decided to confuse their guards.

Every time my guards brought the ball up the court, I had them dribble left handed and go slightly to the left side. I wanted their guards to think we were left handed. Once my guard would hit the top of the key they would do a crossover and drive to the right for a relatively easy basket. We must have scored 20 points this way.

Why did this work? Because their guards expected us to drive to the left side of the court because they thought we were left handed. Perception = Reality!!!! I'm not saying this to brag, even a blind squirrel will find an acorn once in a while. I'm using this to make my point.

Perception = right handed guards go to the right - left handed guards drive left. This is a relatively true perception. So I used this belief and we won by 10 or more, who cares? The point is that a player's perception is their reality.

My team had always been a damn the torpedoes and straight ahead kind of team. My job from here on out is to play upon the other team's perceptions and exploit them. So how can this help you?

I have never gone into faking a lot because of bullet passes and our speed. Now I have been converted, I see the light. Fake one way, go another. Fake a pass to the right, go left. Exploit a player's perceptions.

A player is guarding you close, head fake them Jerk your head up quickly toward the basket like you are going to shoot, then drive right or left.

A simple spin move = spin to the left, get 1/2 way through and spin the other way. The defensive player will almost break their ankles trying to switch directions as you fly by them.

You are going up for a lay-up, as your feet leave the ground, look to your left for a millisecond like a teammate is there and you are going to pass to them. Your defender will back off of you as you are now totally free to execute your lay-up.

Head fakes, shoulder fakes, ball fakes, which hand do you dribble with fake, there are a million of them. I have seen other teams perform them all and always thought that this was wasted motion. Well, folks, I was wrong! I was too stupid to use them. I was like the coaches who preach never to make a one handed pass. There is a time and a place for every basketball weapon, we just need to use them at the appropriate time.

So folks, now you have today's Algebra Lesson.

Perception = Reality, But Not Necessarily The Truth!

Copyright 2001-2002, by Ed Riley, Steve Jordan, Darrell Garrison and Steve MacKinney. All rights reserved.

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Excellent video with thoughts and drills on organizing your practices. Learn from one of the greatest coaches of the game, Coach "K".
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