Sunday, October 02, 2016

The Four Word Coaching Clinic

We start basketball the first day of school. We have a practice time built into first period so we don't have a long session each morning but it is consistent. At the end of our time each morning, we do a little wrap up and pray. Early this past week, I saw Emer, who is the library aide first period, walk through the gym as we were about to close it down. I asked her to join us in our circle and she did. I've gotten to know her a little better this year and have been impressed. She came to WCS last year as a junior but I was not blessed to have her in my class. Emer is a senior and teammates with Jenna, my student assistant, on our  highly successful Lady Wildcats varsity squad. I should add that Emer is 6'5" and being highly recruited by a number of big time college basketball programs. Surrounded by a dozen 6th-7th-8th graders, I asked Emer a question for the benefit of her young audience, as well as Jenna and myself. 
"Emer, if you could go back to basketball in middle school, what would you do differently knowing what you know now?"
She thought a minute before replying with these four words:
"I'd work on layups."

Brilliant. I could not have said it more perfectly myself. It just sounds better to the kids coming from someone they have actually seen play and play well. It was the best teaching moment of the week.

You see, Emer was exactly right. Some youngsters in her place might have come up with something complicated to dazzle the younger ones or maybe because they would guess that's how I would want them to respond. But middle school girls' basketball is a simple game; shoot and make layups on offense and conversely, don't give up layups on defense. Most of these girls are just learning to play and they need to master the most basic shot in the game. (In our summer camps, we even teach layups by skipping!) As you go higher in the game, it gets more complicated both to play (think Steph Curry!) and coach but if you can't do the simple tasks- passing and dribbling and footwork and LAYUPS- at thirteen, you will have a rude awakening when you try out for the varsity squad. I've witnessed young ladies who play come into our school as freshmen and they cannot do the simplest skill, front and rear turns. That should not be the case.

Learning the first things first is the basis of life. You need to know how to tie your shoes-  five year old Lily showed me Thursday! You have to be able to count before you can do math and recite the ABCs before you can read novels. It's the same as believers. The basic truths are simple. God made us and loves us. We sin. Jesus died to atone for those sins. We either act or those beliefs or we don't. As we mature in Christ, as we must, we are ready for deeper truths. Paul writes of those who still need to be on a milk diet in their walk with the Lord when they should be eating meat, spiritually speaking. The kids I coach are not ready to run secondary breaks...... and I lost some of you right there. By the same token, I was not ready to digest the writings of C.S Lewis or Oswald Chambers when I was their age, but I grew into it. Emer could be a carpenter- she hit the nail on the head. I only hope the girls were listening. And Jesus WAS a carpenter!

Applicable quote of the day:
“Just concentrate on what you’re supposed to do” 

 Jeff Van Gundy, ex Houston Rockets Coach

God bless,
Luke 18:1
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