Seems like every year I get pulled into coaching my son’s basketball team. And don’t get me wrong, I love it. It’s great to watch the team progress as we go through the season. I get into it, usually taking on little pet projects, working on something in particular with each kid individually while also working drills with the team.
But if I've learned anything through the years, it's that coaching kids takes p-a-t-i-e-n-c-e.
My wife, a second-grade teacher, gets this amused look on
her face when I get home after an hour of coaching, flop down in the chair and
exclaim how the kids just won’t listen to me.
But I’m not teacher. I’m only a man trying to organize a
decent after-game snack schedule.
Again, each year I start with high hopes. Take for instance, my gameday lineup. Look at that. All neat, with little notes and observations, things to work on.
Fast forward to last week. See? See the frantic scribble of a man at the end of his rope. This is the scrawl of someone hoping people show up. Because that’s another thing. All the kids want to play, but they can’t drive. So you never know just who is going to show up.
There were times--okay lots of times--during the year, when it all came together. I’d look at their faces, brimming with confidence, having soaked up all my lessons I’d drilled into their heads, and I'd think hey, it's working. It's really working.
I’d taught them how to move without the ball, how to box out and rebound, keys to the two/three defense. I'd instilled the discipline of staying in your spot. The results were beautiful. Defensive stops. Rebounds. We were off and running.
Other times, I’d stand to the side, bewildered, the whistle dangling from my lips as
I watched a bunch of kids who'd completely ignored any and everything I’d tried to teach them. They’d
bicker and argue and crowd together and clamor for the ball. And I’d wonder
what in the world I was doing wrong.
Such is how it goes, I guess.
Each year brings it’s own problems. Years five and six was simply
herding cats. Why did you take your shoes off? There was no hope, only survival. Years seven and eight was the
attention span. Stop dribbling. Stop, okay please stop dribbling.
But this year, it was all attitude. Lot's and lot's of attitude. One minute, things were going swimmingly, the next time down the court, it was nearly a street fight. I’d watch the clock, wondering if I should just let them have
at it or try to actually coach. Then gameday would come and I’d do my best to
put them in a position to have some fun.
And to my surprise, they did. Everyone made strides. Everyone mostly enjoyed themselves. And as the final buzzer went off on Saturday, I breathed a sigh of relief. It was over. I’d survived.
But now, well, I find myself thinking how I sort of miss