(Song Reference: "There's Always Something To Remind Me" by Naked Eyes)
As we all get older, we inevitably start slowing down and have less energy. This is most evident for those of us who play in sports. As someone who's played a lot of basketball in my lifetime, I've gone from an energetic young kid in my high school and college years to the grizzled veteran in current times.
However, as a single man with minimal responsibilities in life besides working and paying bills, I have more time to play basketball than my married and attached friends, some of whom also have kids. I play basketball at least twice a week and sometimes more depending if leagues are going on Because of this, I remain in reasonable shape compared to some of my friends.
Because I'm in shape, I can still compete with the younger kids on the basketball court occasionally. I like to surprise the high school and college kids with the fact that I can still play a bit. However, while it's good to be confident, there's always something to remind me that I am getting up there in age!
Tonight was one of those nights when I played some pick up basketball. I was matched with a couple young kids over the course of several pick up games. One was this mid twenties college kid who played some high school basketball. I had played against him and his team in league basketball so I was familiar with him and his game. He was around my height but quicker, faster, stronger and a great shooter. I could barely stay in front of the guy and his quickness had me off balance all night. He would either just shoot over me and just drive by me for a layup. If I could get in front of him, he would lean into me, bump me back and spin the other way. Overall, this guy was just a beast on offense. I guess I shouldn't feel too bad as others who tried to stop this kid didn't do that well either. The only thing I could do was just try to get open on offense and I did hit a few shots when the kid tried to double team one of my team's players.
On the other hand, there was this other guy I had trouble with. I don't know how old this second guy was but he looked to be also in his mid twenties. The second guy was nowhere the offensive player the college kid was. However, he was quick, energetic and wouldn't stop moving. He had no difficulty driving by me a few times to the basket. When he didn't have the ball, he would keep cutting and moving. With his quickness and jumping ability, I had a tough time keeping him away from the basket. When I got the ball against the second guy, it was difficult to get any shots. His quickness allowed him to close on me fast as soon as I got the ball. I managed to get a few shots off but missed quite a few because I rushed them.
Tonight's pick up games reminded me of the difference between playing with my friends who are my age and people who are younger and more athletic. With my friends, I feel I can get off shots almost anytime I want. Since my friends are a little older, defense is a little easier and I don't have to work as hard to get shots on offense.
However, when you play these younger kids, you have to work extra hard on both offense and defense. This extra effort wears on you and my knees and ankle were feeling it tonight. Plus, when you're playing against quick guys on offense, you need precision passing and timing. If a pass is off by a split second, you may not be able to get your shot off. I found this was definitely the case tonight. I was on the receiving end of passes that were not perfect and I either didn't shoot or missed the shots badly.
All in all, I think I need to stop dreaming that I can hang with these young high school and college kids. I should stick with people my own age in the future. It just makes basketball more fun for me!