Monday, February 15, 2010

My Coaching Surprise

When I first started playing basketball, I was in about the 4th or 5th grade and I wasn’t very good.  The teams were co-ed, then, and I spent more time thinking about my freckled, red-headed teammate Mike Fayard than listening to what the coach had to say.  It was, as my father has often said, more of a social event for me.

Several years passed before I showed much promise.  I think I was quick and fairly athletic, so they kept me around.  Eventually things began to sink in.

I’d forgotten this.  I’d forgotten how hard it was to learn this game.  I’ve played for so many years now that these concepts seem obvious.  Cut to the basket.  Come to the ball.  Pick and roll.  ROLL, people, ROLL.

I know, those words don’t mean anything to most of you but trust me, they’re fundamental parts of the game.  If your child ends up on a basketball team, these are things she or he will learn.

In all these years, I have played and practiced and cheered but I haven’t coached until now.  And, man, it is so much harder than I expected.  It’s so hard to teach the kids this basic stuff, this stuff they must learn if they’re going to continue to play the game: to take the baseline, square up to the hoop, keep the ball alive. 

And I love it.  I love almost everything about it.  I love helping them understand, I love watching them hustle, I love watching them watch themselves become players.

I still don’t like losing, but I’ll take a loss with good fundamentals as a positive step forward.  I don’t like that everyone can’t play all of the time.  That’s hard for me.  I’ve been a player and I know how it feels.  I don’t like watching kids get down on themselves when they still have so much time to learn and grow and perfect their skills.

But watching the camaraderie that develops between the boys is something I could do day after day.  Working, working, working with them to teach these concepts—I only wish I had more hours to give them.  Some of these boys may go on to be real ball players and others will likely move on to different interests.  But right now, for this season, I’m giving them everything I have.  And do you know what’s been my biggest surprise?  They’re giving me even more in return.

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