Street Fight Concepts That Made Me a Better Basketball Player – Part 2: Punishing Mistakes

This is an on-going series where I discuss the thinking involved in Street Fighter that I’ve applied to basketball. If you want to see earlier entries in the series, hit the link: Part 1: Spacing


One of the most common mistakes in Street Fighter is a poorly-timed projectile attack. For instance, if I’m Ryu, and you properly react to my fireball, you can jump over the fireball and kick me in the face before I can do anything to defend myself. In Street Fighter, when your opponent makes a mistake, you want to punish them for their mistakes by hitting them with the most powerful attacks as possible.

Basketball is the same way. When your opponent makes a mistake, you make them pay. On defense, one of the easiest ways to punish your opponent is to steal the ball from them. If you recognize that your opponent is dribbling the ball in a way that makes it easy for you to steal, you reach out and grab it. If your offensive opponent picks up their dribble too far away from the net, then you as a defender should get right up in their face to make it physically impossible for your opponent to take a clean shot.

There are a number of situations where you can punish your defender’s mistakes on offense, too. If you play a good back-to-the-basket game and your defender lets you move close to the basket, you punish by putting up a high percentage shot from close. If you’re faster than your opponent and they’re defending you up close, you can drive by them and score the easy layup.

Everyone makes mistakes. If someone slips up, in basketball or Street Fighter, you still want to make them pay as hard as you can.

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