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A Psychoanalytical Take on Dwight's Free Throw Issues

Discussion in 'Houston Rockets: Game Action & Roster Moves' started by Rox>Mavs, Nov 16, 2013.

  1. Rox>Mavs

    Rox>Mavs Contributing Member

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    * Disclaimer: The following is only conjecture based on media reports and game observations. Without direct interaction, it is impossible for any mental health professional to provide a proper assessment

    So I'm not a stat's expert, or even well versed enough in the game of basketball to speak intelligibly on the X's and O's of the game. However, I hope to contribute a psychological dimension to the discussion and spark an additional layer of analysis since that is an area of expertise for me. This thread is purposed to discuss the psychological dynamics behind Dwight Howard's free throw shooting difficulties.

    Unlike other facets of the game where each players game can be affected by others on the court, the free throw only has a few variables to consider that can affect a shooters performance. For the sake of brevity I'm making an educated assumption that Dwight Howard's free throw difficulties are a result of his neurotic fear of what people think of him.

    It's already an assumption based on media reports that he has historically been driven by the need to protect his public perception. Even his efforts in trying to please so many (resulting in his past indecisiveness) is sourced in his fear of what people will think of him if he lets them down.

    It's clear with games like tonight that Dwight is fully capable of hitting his free throws. He apparently shoots at a high clip in practice. He also apparently shoots a higher percentage at away games than at home games. This leads me to assume a couple things.

    1) His shooting (and possibly his post game) are affected by the fact that everyone whose expectations he wants to meet is watching him
    2) His shooting is affected even more so at home where fans are pulling for him and therefore he possibly fears letting fans down more (high expectations) than he is afraid of failing in front of a crowd that already is rooting against him (lower expectations).

    So far he's tried a number of things to address his free throw shooting that we know of:

    1) Shooting a ridiculously high number of shots in practice
    2) Shooting in between wind sprints to simulate game fatigue
    3) Shooting blind folded to trust his form and mechanics
    4) Singing a song in his head while shooting to distract himself slightly enough to get out of his anxiety

    In my opinion these are all band-aid attempts to cover up a much deeper and persistent problem. In all honesty, they might slightly help the free throw shooting but as I mentioned, I think the problem might also affect his post game when he's not reacting quickly to other players, but rather the focus is on him and him alone.

    The issue that he needs to address is placing so much of his self-worth in what other people think of him. His anxiety as evidenced in his free throw shooting game indicates to me that he's giving so much of his power away to millions of people who don't really know or care about him. Some might call him mentally weak, but this is part of normal human psychological growth that we all go through. It seems he's never learned to set psychological boundaries for himself allowing only the most important and personal relationships the power to affect his self worth.

    Keep in mind, these are still young men (some kids) playing at the highest level of their profession. Most players seem to learn this over time getting used to the level of the game, but it might be that Dwight has focused on improving his physical game to a superstar level without developing his psychological game to the same level.

    In my opinion, I think the reason Dwight gives up so much of his sense of worth to what other people think (thereby affecting his game) is because he doesn't know what else is really going to give him value in life. Most of us can understand that what makes the pressure of performing out there in the world bearable is having a family to come home to that loves us regardless of whether we succeed or fail. It doesn't seem like Dwight has that sense of security.

    I've handled a few cases where people come in for performance anxiety related to their profession. In all cases, we eventually move from coping with anxiety to working on learning to set boundaries not only with people around them, but for themselves so they learn to not place their self-worth in what they can do for others or how others perceive them. Until people like this can learn to find value inherently within themselves or through relationships characterized by unconditional love and acceptance, anxiety will continue to harm performance.

    The problem Dwight has (as all professionals do) is that it's extraordinarily difficult not place all your self worth and value in what you do for a living, let alone letting the entire world critique you on how well you perform in your career.

    Bottom line....I think Dwight needs to sit with a sports psychologist to become a little more resilient in his sense of self so he can just focus on his game.

    I was thinking of putting together an analysis of the team play dynamic using a psychoanalytical tool to help explain why there's some identity and leadership issues, but I'll save that for another day when I've got more time.
     
  2. NewBigThree09

    NewBigThree09 Member

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    He needs Ron's psychiatrist. ;)
     
  3. Marteen

    Marteen Member

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    Great read. It really does contradict Dwight's reasons for leaving L.A., because he moved on to make himself happy without worrying what others thought of him. I hope the coaches see the same thing you do.
     
  4. ShiniKashi

    ShiniKashi Member

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    I actually totally agree with this. Having gone through similar issues like this myself, it's definitely important to get handle. I know a great guy who could help out too, but dunno how I'd get my recommendation to management.
     
  5. Tfor3

    Tfor3 Member

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    Interesting read. It would be nice to see Howard stop caring what people think and just play angry.

    In tonight's game - he seemed to get into a nice rhythm at the FT line at HOME. Really proud of him.
     
  6. vlaurelio

    vlaurelio Contributing Member

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    he's worried about meeting people's expectations

    but it came to a point that the expectations were too high and there are other factors involved (kobe) that no matter what he did they will never be satisfied
     
  7. vlaurelio

    vlaurelio Contributing Member

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    will having more baby mama's in Houston help?
     
  8. Carl Herrera

    Carl Herrera Contributing Member

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    He should learn to relax by practicing free throws in a full arena in the nude.
     
  9. Rox>Mavs

    Rox>Mavs Contributing Member

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    you know i was actually thinking of making reference to this. Sounds funny, but the sad reality I think is that when young men like this make so much money and have so much notoriety that it's near impossible for relationships to be formed that are healthy. Most people in that world must be able to only experience relationships where you use people and are used by people.

    He's obviously getting something from his baby mama's......and they're getting something from him. Where do sports professionals that deep in that world find meaningful and safe relationships? To quote the famous philosopher Notorious BIG.....mo money mo problems....
     
  10. Gday

    Gday Member

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  11. Morlock O

    Morlock O Member

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    did you see when they started the hack a dwight, and dwight started missing, Lin, Harden Parsons came in and encouraged him. thats what we need to do! thats team!
     
  12. PnRScreen

    PnRScreen Rookie

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    Dwight = Last year Lin

    man, we could've won more games if he keep shooting FT like this game.
     
  13. don grahamleone

    don grahamleone Contributing Member

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    I personally think three things should be tried to relax Dwight:

    A) Home crowd boos him, does the balloon thing when he's shooting, etc
    B) Home town PA plays song during free throws that he can focus on so he slows down.
    C) When playing away from home, the rebounders should sing some song to get his mind thinking about some slow song. Singing would not have to be good. Just something that makes dwight laugh a little.
     
  14. don grahamleone

    don grahamleone Contributing Member

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    Home town crowd sing "Sittin' On the Dock of the Bay" while he shoots. That's bound to help. And it would be fun for everyone.
     
  15. KlutchQT

    KlutchQT Contributing Member

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    This has my full support.
     
  16. Panda23

    Panda23 Member

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    There was something in the pregame that I think spoke to James Harden as a leader

    He was basically talking about how good Lin has been this year, and how hes been on him to be aggressive and keep shooting the ball no matter what. Instilling that sorta confidence from your marquee players can do wonders
     
  17. ed_tx

    ed_tx Contributing Member

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    Great analysis. I hate it when I'm at the game and the crowd lets out a collective "ugh or awww" when Dwight misses a FT. I was telling my buddy at the Toronto game how bad that's gotta make Dwight feel.
     
  18. tochiee22

    tochiee22 Contributing Member

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    He shoots a better percentage on the road because of the noise which forces him
    To block out the sound and all other thoughts, my friend and I were trying to make
    Noise to get him to concentrate and it seemed to work.. Especially Becsuse the center
    Was really really quiet, shame. So yeah,


    Make some noise for howRd when he shoots freewthrows. It calms him down
    jUSt try it please and respond after
     
  19. don grahamleone

    don grahamleone Contributing Member

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    The important detail here is making sure that loud noises at home do not translate to silence when we're visiting.
     
  20. Sweet Lou 4 2

    Sweet Lou 4 2 Contributing Member
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    I don't know why he doesn't know how to shoot a basketball. He has no touch on his ft's or his shots. He looks like he holds the ball like he is shot-putting.

    A good shot should roll off of the fingers. He should try practicing his ft's shooting one handed that will force him to engage his fingers and loosen his wrist up so he can develop a more fluid shooting motion. It will also force him to put more arc to prevent the ball from rolling out of his hand too early.
     

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