I don't currently have an assistant in basketball. In years past, I've always had a player from either our high school girls or boys team to help me coach my squad when we practice first period. (None of our varsity players could work it into their schedules and believe me, we tried! I am blessed to have Emily as my aide, an awesome helper, but she doesn't have a basketball background to help me in the finer aspects of the game.) When you stop playing, your skills deteriorate and you need someone to demonstrate, particularly ball handling, which is the first skill to desert has-beens. I have fourteen kids this year, including eight who have never played before and a couple more who are only in year two. It's forced me to be more creative and do things en masse. One drill my kids always love is Dribble Knockout. The rules are you have to maintain control of your basketball while getting the others in the competition to lose theirs or step out of bounds. There are variations such as Weak Hand Knockout and Two Ball Knockout which is very difficult- you have to maintain dribbling two basketballs while trying to dislodge your opponents from their two basketballs. I like these games because it forces the kids to protect the ball, something of which we do not always excel!
On Friday, we went through all the variations of the dribble knockout but I made an addition- we made it a team competition. We divided evenly into teams of blue and white and expanded the boundaries from the free throw lane to the entire area within the three point arc. I gave them a chance to put some strategies together. When you play as a team, everything changes. I met with with the white team and Emily the blue team. Basically, we decided to send our two least experienced players, Dahlia and Kayla, after Shelley, the other team's best dribbler. Dahlia and Kayla both went out quickly but they forced Shelley to speed up and she didn't last long, either. The other gambit we implemented was to protect Sydney, my team's best ball handler. Sydney's teammates surrounded her so the evil blue squad could not harass her into making a mistake. And it worked! Well, it worked the first time. We played again and the blue team won. The kids loved it and we'll come back to it. We still have the small matters of passing/shooting/rebounding/playing defense to master!
As we stacked it up, I told them I don't know anything about chess but I know the queen can be the most powerful piece and you have to protect her, like we tried to do with Sydney. We also talked about sometimes our role is to give ourselves up for the good of the team as Kayla and Dahlia did. I like these kids trying to come up with ways to win, to think through situations and circumstances because that's what life is going to throw at them. In 2 Corinthians 2:11, Paul speak of Satan's schemes. If the devil has a plan, we are derelict if we don't and if we don't teach the next generation to do the same. In my Gospels classes on Friday, our memory verse was also from Paul, Ephesians 6:12, as he defines spiritual warfare:
For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.
We need to be ready. Basketball is an enjoyable game with some earthly benefits but life is winner-take-all with no do-overs. Fortunately, we have the only coach that matters on our side. And He doesn't need a whistle.
Applicable quote of the day:
"In life, as in chess, forethought wins."
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