How I tried to download new basketball skills, and only partially failed

basketball skills internetRemember that scene from The Matrix where Neo is strapped into a dentist’s chair and is fed all sorts of skills right into his cerebral cortex? He downloads drunken boxing and kung fu, and then challenges Morpheus to a fight?

Sorry to disappoint you, but that’s still not possible – although we are getting closer. If it were, I would be a much better basketball player than I am now. I would just type in “John Stockton” (I don’t want to be too greedy, although I might download Wilt Chamberlain’s sexual prowess on a temporary basis) and would suddenly own my Monday night over-30 league.

I haven’t played competitive basketball since middle school, but considering I spend most of my time at home, I figured I needed an outlet for exercise and socialization. I’m not the most athletic person, but I do have skills in other sports. Most importantly, I’m competitive and have high standards for myself.

So what do I do with my flexible schedule and my superiority complex? Do I go to the local court and shoot free throws for hours at a time? No. I seek out online ways to improve my basketball game so I don’t have to practice.

The first stop was YouTube. I spent the 30 minutes or so watching Blake Griffin highlight videos, as they were the first hits when you search for “basketball skills”. Although they were quite inspiring, they didn’t really show me how to maximize my own abilities. He’s a definitely candidate if I ever get the skill-download machine working, though.

It turned out there were a lot of instructional videos out there. They ranged from individual skill drills (what part of “no practice” didn’t you understand, YouTube?) to broader discussions of offensive and defensive strategy. I was learning a lot about the game, but strategy doesn’t tend to play a big part in my league. In an over-30 league, most participants are happy if the paramedics aren’t called by the end of the game.

WikiHow basketball I’ve found that Google will occasionally bounce you to WikiHow, but this was the first time I dug through the site without Google’s direct assistance. What I found were 182 crowd-sourced articles about basketball. The first I clicked on was the aptly titled “How to Avoid the Basketball.” I have already mastered that skill, so that was a confidence boost. Overall, the site was helpful and kept me from buying a basketball book or checking one out at the library. And isn’t avoiding books the goal of any website?

But no matter how helpful YouTube and WikiHow were, it was becoming more obvious that practice was unavoidable. I’ve never been good at practice, so what I needed was some sort of system to provide the exterior pressure I need to go out to the court.

There are quite a few of these sites, such as 21 Habit and Beeminder, that have you put some money up as added pressure. You’re basically betting on yourself. I looked into the most polished and notable of these sites, stickK. You simply set a goal, choose an amount of money to bet, appoint a referee to confirm that you are doing what you’re supposed to be doing, and publicize your goal through your social networks so other people start pressuring you about your goal as well. If you like being constantly asked about your weight loss, this system is for you!

The problem with all of these sites is that they are designed for measurable goals. They want to see you losing weight or exercising daily. Some even can be hooked into wireless scales. Considering my overall goal is to avoid embarrassing myself on the basketball court, my measurement is subjective. As proven by the first three games of the season, my embarrassment threshold is pretty high. I can say I’m going to practice every day, but it’s not possible for someone to babysit me in this.

I was struck by something I read in one of the WikiHow articles, “Play basketball well without being athletic.” The first tip was to hustle. As the anonymous authors put it, since I’m not the most athletic person in the world, I have to out-work everyone on the court. I don’t mind if I’m not the leading scorer, as long as we win. If my job is to run around antagonizing the ball handler until he makes a mistake, I’m good with that. It will definitely give me exercise.

See? The Internet did make me a better basketball player after all.

The views expressed here are solely those of the author and do not reflect the beliefs of Digital Trends.

Photography

Grit and gear: How Chris Hershman went from retail clerk to music video director

How did Chris Hershman go from working a music retail job to working with bands like NEEDTOBREATHE and Switchfoot? The music video director and filmmaker talks to us about video, tech, and Nikon's new mirrorless.
Gaming

These are the best video games you shouldn't leave 2018 without

Developers showed up with a number of amazing games this year. Each capitalized on something unique but there's always one that outdoes them all. Here are our picks for the best video games of 2018 and game of the year.
Smart Home

Dear Instant Pot Smart: I love you. Thank you for changing my life

After taking the Instant Pot Smart WiFi Programmable Pressure Cooker for a spin, one long-time product reviewer finds much to love about the device she long coveted, despite that it’s not really that smart.
Computing

I tried an LTE laptop for a month, and I wasn’t really convinced

LTE laptops offer up plenty of benefits and are becoming more common. After spending one month with one in my daily life in New York City, I really wondered if it is something that consumers really need in their lives.
Mobile

Smartphone makers are vomiting a torrent of new phones, and we’re sick of it

Smartphone manufacturers like Huawei, LG, Sony, and Motorola are releasing far too many similar phones. The update cycle has accelerated, but more choice is not always a good thing.
Opinion

Do we even need 5G at all?

Faster phones, easier access to on-demand video, simpler networking -- on the surface, 5G sounds like a dream. So why is it more of a nightmare?
Home Theater

The Apple AirPods 2 needed to come out today. Here are four reasons why

Apple announced numerous new products at its October 30 event, a lineup that included a new iPad Pro, a MacBook Air, as well as a new Mac Mini. Here are four reasons we wish a new set of AirPods were on that list.
Computing

Razer’s most basic Blade 15 is the one most gamers should buy

Razer's Blade 15 is an awesome laptop for both gamers, streamers, professionals, and anyone else needing serious go in a slim profile, but its price is out of reach for many games. The new Blade 15 Base solves that problem with few…
Gaming

Going to hell, again. The Switch makes 'Diablo 3' feel brand-new

I've played every version of Diablo 3 released since 2012, racking up hundreds of hours in the process. Six years later, I'm playing it yet again on Nintendo Switch. Somehow, it still feels fresh.
Gaming

‘Fallout 76’ may have online multiplayer but it’s still a desolate wasteland

"Is Fallout 76 an MMO?" That depends on who you ask. Critics and players often cite its online multiplayer capabilities as a reason it qualifies. Yet calling the game an MMO only confuses matters, and takes away from what could make…
Digital Trends Live

Microsoft has #*!@ed up to-do lists on an epic scale

Microsoft has mucked up to-do lists on a scale you simply can’t imagine, a failure that spans multiple products and teams, like a lil’ bit of salmonella that contaminates the entire output from a factory.
Opinion

As Amazon turns up the volume on streaming, Spotify should shudder

Multiple players are all looking to capitalize on the popularity of streaming, but it has thus far proved nearly impossible to make a profit. Could major tech companies like Amazon be primed for a streaming take-over?
Gaming

Throw out the sandbox. ‘Red Dead Redemption 2’ is a fully realized western world

Despite featuring around 100 story missions, the real destination in Red Dead Redemption 2 is the journey you make for yourself in the Rockstar's open world, and the game is better for it.
Gaming

‘Diablo Immortal’ is just the beginning. Mobile games are the future

Diablo fans were furious about Diablo Immortal, but in truth, mobile games are the future. From Apple and Samsung to Bethesda and Blizzard, we’re seeing a new incentive for games that fit on your phone.