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Monday, July 03, 2006

Basketball, Chess and Boxing

Success at any form of competition is based on several factors: mastery of fundamental techniques, supreme focus on the task at hand and maintaining a state of calm in the heat of battle. In basketball, fundamental techniques include footwork, dribbling, passing, shooting and boxing out; in chess, fundamental techniques include basic checkmating patterns and an understanding of certain opening, middlegame and endgame positions; in boxing, fundamental techniques include footwork, how to throw certain punches (jab, hook, uppercut, etc.) and how to block certain punches. While the fundamental techniques involved in these three endeavors involve different skill sets, the focus and calm that are required are actually very similar. Many basketball players, boxers and other athletes play chess, including Larry Bird, Jim Brown and Lennox Lewis.

Here are links to a couple very interesting articles. Neither is specifically about basketball, but they provide insights into some of the connections between chess and sports. The first one discusses Lennox Lewis' love of chess and his sponsorship of a school chess team in Memphis. The second one originally appeared in the New York Times in 1994 and examines parallels between the training routines of great chess masters, virtuoso musicians and elite athletes:

From Champion to King: Lennox Lewis still supports the chess team he met when he was a boxer

Peak Performance: Why Records Fall

posted by David Friedman @ 3:34 PM

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