Shi brothers strive for basketball greatness since childhood

At six years old, most children begin to show signs of basic athleticism. At eight years old, most children begin to develop basic social skills needed for teamwork. At six and eight years old, Peter Shi (10) and Matthew Shi (11) were taking those skills in basketball worth dedicating their highschool careers to. Hours of  practice, competition and passion drive Peter and Matthew to nurture their dynamic partnership in order to maximize their potential on and off the court.

Although their current level of dedication to the sport might imply a purposeful introduction to the sport, the Shi brothers entered the world of basketball in a peculiar fashion.

“It was really weird how we started,” Peter Shi said. “I was in my backyard, and this kid who ended up becoming one of my best friends came and started peeking through the fence. I know it sounds [unusual], but we ended up hanging out, and he showed me how to play. Matthew started playing really soon after that.” 

Soon after learning the basics together, Peter and Matthew began to play for both school and club teams. While both require consistent practice and mindfulness, Matthew Shi notes a difference in attitude when playing club basketball versus  on a school team.

“It’s different; in school you have more to play for because you play for your school, so you take more pride in it,” Matthew Shi said. “But in summer ball or club teams, I feel like that’s when coaches can see you more often, and you get to do more because [there is] more freedom.” 

Club basketball teams are generally separated by age, preventing Peter and Matthew from being on the same team. However, being only one grade level apart has let them play on the same school team. During the season, the brothers and their teammates foster this competitive sibling relationship on the court.

 “[Coaches and teammates] know we’re competitive and take pride in what we do, especially when we go against each other,” Matthew Shi said. “Whenever he scores on me, everybody makes a big deal about it. And whenever I score on him, everybody makes a big deal about it because we’re brothers.” 

The competitive relationship between Matthew and Peter may occasionally cause disagreements, but both agree that their relationship as siblings allows for more concise communication and fuels refinement in their individual skills.

“I can be more straight up with my brother,” Peter Shi said. “I don’t have to pull any punches. With some of the players, you have to think about how you say stuff without them getting mad because you obviously don’t have the same bond me and my brother have. If one of us is playing [badly], we can just say that and try to fix it.” 

Luckily, both brothers play the same position while on the court, which allows them to observe strengths and weaknesses in the other’s playing style. While at home, Peter and Matthew alternate rebounding and blocking for each other to further develop skills vital for gameplay.

“We both play point guard,” Matthew Shi said. “It makes some things easier [because] we understand the game from that position, and it’s easier to practice on each other if we know what to change.” 

Despite playing the same position, Matthew and Peter are drastically different types of point guards. While Matthew prefers to facilitate options for the team and shoot more conservatively, Peter feeds off energy from the crowd and takes almost every opportunity to shoot.

“Even though we play the same position, I don’t play at all like my brother,” Peter Shi said. “I shoot a lot more. I’m more self-centered, and I’m working on that, but he’s more like he wants to get the team involved. And those are just things where I can learn from him and he can learn from me.” 

Regardless of opposite playing styles, both brothers identify the mental challenge of losses in basketball. It can be difficult for them to recover from the disappointment and feeling of guilt from a hard miss or outmatched game. 

“I believe the most challenging part is the mental [part] because after a tough loss, it can be hard … or a tough performance,” Matthew Shi said. “It can be really hard to get over it, and that has taught me a lot about how to overcome challenges.” 

These mental hardships have shown both brothers how to conquer obstacles but for Peter, they encouraged him to approach basketball from a different perspective. Peter has managed the pressure from parents, peers and mentors by altering his mindset surrounding the sport.

“[Mental challenges] made me realize to not just play basketball to be good, but to have fun,” Peter Shi said. “If you like shooting, then shoot. And there was a lot of pressure from dads and coaches in middle school that made me not really like to play. But as time went on, I decided to just have fun.”

While Peter has decided having fun when playing basketball is his top priority, Matthew hopes to play at the next level. However, the Shi brothers both continuously work toward improvement and are able to demand success from each other in a way others cannot.

“Not only will [Matthew] tell me what I’m doing wrong, he’ll tell me ‘you have to get it right now,’” Peter Shi said. “I don’t put effort into some things unless I’m really being pushed, and if someone tells me to ‘work hard’ or ‘fix this,’ I would probably brush it off. But it’s more personal when it’s your brother.”

Through their close childhood and dedication to basketball, the Shi brothers have experienced enormous growth in both the sport and their relationship. Peter and Matthew can both attribute this growth to their intre-reflective relationship and fiery passion for basketball.

“Basketball has brought us together because of the competition between us,” Matthew Shi said. “I think it makes us better, and we both have the same goal: to become a better player and a better person.”