Make those Lay-ups Stanley Felsinger It is the month of Elul. One month to Rosh Hashanah. It’s time to warm up, take lay-ups, take stock and prepare for the Big Game. Below is something that combines the two worlds I have traveled in. When I played basketball at Columbia the pre-game norm, as it seemed to be everywhere, was layup lines and then shooting around before the game. I couldn't help notice how many players, on both teams, took shots during lay-ups and when shooting around that would never be used in the actual game. They didn't seem to take the warm-ups as a serious part of game preparation. I acted differently. I took my layups with full concentration, exploding toward the hoop, while protecting the ball. In my mind were also scenarios of different potential defensive coverage and I would make appropriate adjustments to the imaginary defense. When layups were over and shooting began I followed the coach’s directions exactly. I started about five feet from the basket with the ball only in my right hand, making sure that my finger tip control, balance, and proper elbow positioning were set and emphasized my proper follow through. I did this over and over again, until it felt automatic. Then I began backing up, still with only one hand. After that I added my left hand making sure the mechanical setup I had worked on with just my right hand remained in place. I then took the shots from the spots that would come out of our offense or off a fast break. I worked on my quick stop, making sure to lean back in the direction I was dribbling from, so when I hit the height of my jump I was straight up. Like my coach had taught, this prevented the inertia from causing me to drift. I would throw my weight back as I stopped on a dime, so the backward movement carried me to a straight up and down position. I would then release the ball at the height of my jump, suspended in the air with almost no movement when I shot. I practiced off the board and straight at the hoop. I also took numerous foul shots, again just with the right hand first and with the left hand in place, just for balance. These thoughts came to me as I began preparing for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, the Days of Awe. I am studying from the words of some of our greatest coaches, - the Mesilus Yeshorim and the Shaarei Tshuvah. The memories of pre-game warm-ups filled me with enthusiasm and encouragement. My basketball game-prep instilled in me the knowledge that practice before “The Game” was critical. And I now I was using what I learned on the court to prepare me for the focus and seriousness necessary for the "Real Game." Out on the hardwood I had wondered, “Why didn't everyone do this?” I thought of two possible reasons: 1-some players may not have taken the game seriously enough. They weren't starters and, therefore, they thought preparation wasn't necessary. 2- Or, perhaps, it might have been a cop out for those who didn't want to risk trying hard and then, perhaps, not succeeding. Were they deluding themselves and preparing a postgame explanation; "I didn't do well because I didn't really try? If I really tried I could have been great." It's the month of Elul and Rosh Hashanah is coming - how can we not give it our all?! It's an Ais Rawtzon, a time when Hashem (G-d) wants to be close to us, the King has come down off His throne and is in the Field. He is accessible and we are preparing for our meeting with AVEINU MALKEINU (our Father, our King)! There is a beautiful and timely story of the poor guy from the small village who goes to visit his rich cousin in the big city. They sit at the rich cousin's beautifully set table and the rich cousin reaches out for the elegant silver bell in front of him. He rings it, and servants appear, with course after course of delicious food. Each time he rings the bell sumptuous delights are brought. The poor cousin is enthralled and asks after the meal where to get such a bell. The rich cousin tells him it is very expensive, but for is for sale in a shop in town. The poor cousin spends everything he has, buys it, goes home and tells his wife to invite the entire village for a banquet at their home. She should get the tables and benches and he would provide the food and waiters. Everyone arrives, rather incredulous as to how this poor fellow can provide. With pomp he lifts the bell and rings it and you know what happens - nothing!!!! Again, and again, nothing. He is confused. He returns to his rich cousin and asks what happened - why didn't his bell work? His cousin gently explains that the bell only works if all the preparations are done in advance - the table set, the food bought and prepared, the waiters in place. The Shofar is our bell all through Elul and then again at Rosh Hashanah. The month of Elul is our time for preparation. The Big Game is coming and we can be ready if we prepare. Let’s get going!
May we all be inscribed for a Good and Meaningful Year with success in all the important things.
Love, Stanley and your Camp Monroe Family