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Players: Peace Under Pressure

There is something about the 4th quarter of a basketball game that drums up all sorts of feelings.

  • There is excitement at the challenge seeing a lead shrink or grow.
  • There is stress to get back in the game or to keep it in your favor.
  • There is urgency knowing each second is closer to the final buzzer.
  • There is pride from the extra effort and focus required.
  • There is hope that your team will do enough to achieve the win.

The 4th quarter also unlocks new levels of being for everyone in the gym.

  • The crowd cheers a little louder and groans a little deeper as each play moves toward the finish.
  • Officials sharpen their focus as each play, and each call, carries extra weight.
  • Coaches find their groove as the previous 3 quarters have revealed the strengths and weaknesses of the opponent.
  • Players enter “flow” as their mind, body, team, and the game all become one.

Basketball

Senior guard Max Yon dunks for 2 points against conference When a player enters a state of “flow”, or they are “in the zone”, everything around seems to slow down. When the pressure is on in a close game in the 4th quarter, players need to remain calm and focused. The players who exemplify “peace under pressure” are the ones who coaches & fans want to see have the ball in their hands when the clock is running out.

When I was in college, I clearly remember a time when I was “in the zone”. We were playing in a Thanksgiving tournament in Hawaii and were locked in a tied game with less than ten seconds on the clock. 

During our last time-out the coach drew up a play for me to get the ball at the free-throw line for a last second shot. 

Everything went perfectly and I found myself with the ball in my hands staring at a shot I would make 9 out of 10 times. The only problem was there were two defenders flying at me and I had already jumped to shoot. 

Thankfully, my teammate was standing wide open right next to the hoop. I managed to make a quick dump-pass to him for a buzzer-beating game-winning slam dunk.

The entire play was maybe only 3 or 4 seconds long, but for all the players it felt like minutes of slow motion action.

Even through the pressure of the situation there was a certain peace throughout the play.

Life

In life, I’ve always marveled at people who exude peace in the midst of difficult circumstances.

I’ve seen people face tragedy, loss, betrayal and pain with an unnatural grace and peace.

I’ve witnessed increased calm and focus from individuals who are up for a big promotion, or who are giving an impactful presentation.

Not a fake calm or mask of “I’m fine”, but a true and deep peace.

Where does that come from? 

Is it confidence? Ignorance? Apathy?

The Bible explains this type of peace as “the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding…” (Philippians 4:7).

For me, this still begs the question – how do we gain more of this peace? So that when the pressures of the 4th quarter moments of life come, we have “the peace of God.”

Some of this is answered in the surrounding verses of Philippians 4

  • “Rejoice always” (4:4)
  • Be “reasonable” or “gentle” (4:5)
  • Know that “The Lord is near” (4:5)
  • “Do not be anxious about anything” (4:6)
  • In “everything” pray and ask with thanksgiving (4:6)
  • Get your mind/thinking right (4:8)
  • Be in community (4:9)

Clearly, finding peace in the midst of pressure is more than a checklist or formula of “dos” and “don’ts” – BUT having a roadmap never hurts.

Do you have “the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding”?

Maybe next time you’re facing pressure, and the coach wants to put the ball in your hands in the 4th quarter, consider the wisdom from Philippians 4 and see how you might make the next play…with peace. 

Ultimately, we believe that FULL peace is found in a relationship with Jesus Christ.

For more on peace, check out this great video by bibleproject.com.


Consider joining the  “4th Quarter Sprint” fundraising campaign to support the international basketball ministry of News Release Basketball.

Tim Bieri | News Release Basketball Director
Tim Bieri | News Release Basketball Director

Tim has served with NRB for nearly 20 years and has coached at the collegiate level for the past 13 years.