In Conversation with Praneet Singh Butran:
Today we are in conversation with Praneet Singh Butran from TYBSc. He has just graduated from GIPE and is all set for a new phase in his life ahead. He primarily plays basketball and has played till the district level in school.
- Congratulations on graduating from GIPE. Could you let us know about your plans for the future?
- Thanks a lot! I am looking to pursue a masters in economics from a reputable university.
- How did you get introduced to basketball and since when have you participated in tournaments?
- I started playing basketball in the 9th grade when I joined my boarding school, The Lawrence School Lovedale in Ooty. It was in a way one of the worst decisions I could have ever made. You see, I was barely even 5.2ft at the time, but since I enjoyed the sport so much, I just kept at it!
- How do you think basketball has helped you mentally, physically, and emotionally all this time?
- Starting from an already disadvantaged position physically, when I did start playing well despite my height, my self confidence shot up. Initially it was tough because it is a highly competitive and physically demanding sport, and I would admit that I still could do much better on the physical side of things. Regardless, I kept improving my game as the years went by. For me, the sport is like an addiction, and no matter how a game goes, there is always a feel good factor involved after a match, when my mind and body are just buzzing with energy. I think that feeling is universal.
- Since basketball is a team sport, a good chunk of your performance depends on the bond and coordination between the team members. How did you and your team make sure that you were coordinated with each other?
- Coordination is literally everything in a team sport, and especially in a fast game like basketball where one turnover can cost you the entire match. Generally when there are good players in a team who have pretty much mastered the basics like shooting, passing and dribbling;coordination at that point is almost automatic. Good players know when and how to pass through gaps, take shots when needed, and run back for defence when a turnover occurs. But when the competition gets tough, you can’t rely on intuition alone. That’s when one realises the importance of strategies, and with that my coach did a great job. He made one person the controller of the team, someone who could set the game up properly in terms of rotation and could shoot as well. The entire team had to communicate verbally throughout both the defence and offence plays so that no one was playing loose. With enough practice, even strategized setups become automatic for the team.
- You mentioned that your last big tournament was a district level competition at the school level. Do you still play basketball competitively or do you continue to play the sport casually as and when you find time?
- I haven’t played competitively since school, mostly because of the pandemic. Though I try to play whenever I find the time, even that seems to be diminishing nowadays!
- Who influenced your playing technique the most?
- There hasn’t been just a single person who has inspired my style of play. It is more like I subconsciously picked up my flow from observing how different people approach their shooting or dribbling. I tried to imitate mostly from teammates who played at a similar position like me- point or a shooting guard. As far as any NBA player influencing me is concerned, Jason Kidd’s passing was definitely inspirational, as was Iverson’s handles!
- What aspect of basketball came easiest to you?
- Assisting was definitely something that came the easiest to me. I am good at knowing where my teammates are at all times and making the necessary gaps in order to pass the ball to them. Shooting would be a close second, although my accuracy has reduced drastically in recent times!
- What tips would you like to give someone who is just starting out in the game?
- Just enjoy the game and work on your basics. Fundamentals are extremely important in basketball, since marginal differences in player’s fundamentals have a tremendous impact on the game. It’s always better to be a boring but efficient scorer rather than a flashy but ineffective player.
- How are discipline issues and repeated offences of talented players dealt with during team practices?
- The most talented players in a team definitely deserve to maintain a certain level of ego as long as it doesn’t prove to be detrimental to the team itself. During training, even the best players should be reminded constantly that they need to train as much as the other players, and that ultimately they’ll only do well when the others are able to coordinate with them efficiently.
- When we talk about basketball we also are reminded of the fact that basketball players are required to be tall. Is a player’s height actually something that can add to / subtract from their advantage?
- Being tall is definitely an advantage in basketball, and we cannot run away from that fact. A well trained tall player can wreak havoc on both the defensive and offensive plays. They can block shots on defence and also score better on the offence, but it definitely isn’t the only factor that matters. If a midsize or a short player can overtake his teammates on other aspects of the game, they can play a much more valuable role for the team, and perhaps even be the best on the team as it oftens happens even professionally (take Chris Paul or Stephen Curry for example).
- Lastly, when we think of basketball as a spectator sport, we tend to look towards leagues like the NBA and idolise players who play in those leagues. Is basketball too niche a sport in India for it to gain any significant media attention?
- As it always happens with most sports in India, Cricket always seems to take the limelight away from other equally fantastic and deserving sports. I personally think that Basketball has huge potential to grow in India, as many people already do play and love the sport. In fact, Basketball requires the least infrastructure when compared to other sports and is played relatively fast too, hence saving both time and money. I genuinely don’t know why the sport still hasn’t picked up that well in India. Maybe it needs to be promoted on a larger scale, not only in urban areas but also in small towns and villages.
Hopefully that’ll happen soon and maybe we could be looking at a league of our own!