The Lower Man Wins

The Lower Man Wins

Disclaimer: This is all based on a slogan adopted by my brother from his basketball coach in Japan. This was something that he used to shape his coaching philosophy. When you play professional basketball overseas, sometimes it’s hard to find ways to communicate, so you end up understanding common phrases on an entirely new level. My brother explained to me that his coach would always use this terminology to explain both offense and defense. In this part of #ThePlayerCoachSeries, we will be directing our attention back to defense, but understand that this concept equally applies to offense as well.


Offensive Review

On offense, your triple threat position shouldn’t be standing up.

You should almost be sitting. You want to practice the correct posture; there is no getting around the importance of this. You will always have this advantage on offense if you discipline yourself to stay lower at all times.

Think about it. When you shoot, you naturally have to get down to gather yourself. So when you utilize this lower stance, all you will have to do is go right up. That’s the beauty of this form--it actually saves you extra energy when you think about it like that.

Break it down to the simplest point: When you are being lower to the ground, you have more balance, more strength—specifically more lower body strength and thus a stronger base.


On Defense

When you’re on defense you have to be sitting down. There is no debate about it. You must be low. Consider the key advantage: When you’re lower, you’re stronger.


Note: We understand there are times when you might have to stand straight up. (For example, in the post if someone is backing you down you may have to stand up.) There are times when defense does call for you to technically be standing “straight up”. But this part of the defensive series is not about those particular moments. We are stressing that in the final battle within the sequence of the game, the lower man wins.


Why is it worth it to win the lower man battle?

Sometimes you might feel tired, or feel like it isn’t worth it to be so low all the time. This is where a lot of people fall off mentally. They aren’t made for the challenge. But if you’ve made it this far, then obviously you are. So let me let you in on a little secret about winning this fight: This is where you obtain your power.

Being lower is how you’re able to use your maximum strength.

See, a lot of people overestimate what strength really is. If you think about it, strength is actually relative. But where it’s exploited most is when you consider posture. For example, you could be the strongest man in the world, but if you are standing straight up you could get pushed easily by anyone. It applies to the game of basketball too. You could spend all day in the gym while being the strongest man in the game—but still get blown by so badly that you aren’t able to recover.  This is why you should take “lower man wins” seriously.

The one thing you can almost always guarantee when you win the low man wins game is that you will be quicker in two ways; 1. Quicker than you would be if you were standing with a higher posture, and 2. (More than likely) quicker than your opponent, which is the real key to this fight.

Always low

It is important that you understand the disciplined effort you must take in order to be at the elite level you seek to achieve. It’s as simple as input and output. I do wish there was a way to skip this process; unfortunately there isn’t. This part takes the most effort, but it also pays the greatest reward—to maintain low posture with full consistency means you’re essentially winning 100% of the time you’re on the court. When played this way, this can become a motivating element to the way you approach the game.

So let’s recap…

The "lower man wins".

Basically, it’s about competing for position advantage.

Quick Tips/Reminders

  • You can’t play defense standing up.
  • You have to be sitting down. Use this advantage to your maximum benefit.
  • The key operative word is “Lower”, as in “lower than”.
  • If I’m lower than you, I’m in the better position than you.
  • As cliché as it sounds, it seriously comes down to digging deeper than your opponent.

I was sometimes that player who slapped the ground while I waited for the offensive player to come towards me down the court; it’s this kind of attitude we encourage.

When you’re lower than that person, then you can approach them the way you should want to—straight up. When I sit down, I’m right there. You can’t play true defense standing up.


Final disclaimer: This doesn’t necessarily work every time, but generally speaking. At the very least, it is something to think about when you find yourself enduring a crunch time possession that requires you to dig deep.

Four time All-American, WNBA Champion, Edutainer and Coach