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Friday, June 8, 2018

Basketball and Coaching: What Keeps You Awake at Night?

The "Porch Guys" (Stoa is Greek for porch) say, "Control what you can control." Even the most devoted Stoic recognizes unforeseen problems arise. Problems cause bad dreams. 

Trouble. Dad had a saying, "never trouble trouble until trouble troubles you." I had a conversation with a local police officer about community policing. How should 'we' manage an athlete caught underage drinking? He said there are some who want a Zero Tolerance, "drop the hammer" policy on everyone and everything. Others prefer (I am one) taking the youngster home, discussing it with the family, and working it "in house." We counsel everyone about alcohol, tobacco, and drugs from a young age. From an official standpoint, one offense means a four game basketball suspension. I've had a player suspended in high school; it's beyond disappointing. 

Injuries and illness. Two seasons ago, I lost my best post player to a knee injury a week before the season started. Boom. She was all-league as a high school freshman this year. It affords opportunities for others, but her injury made me even dumber

Academics. Academics assume life priority. "There is no ability without eligibility." We've never lost a youngster to academic failure. When my daughters were seniors, all six made honor roll. But that's exceptional. But academics and academic pressure affect players. 

Stress. Oklahoma coach Sherri Coale shared a story from her team about girls confronting a player, "you're not happy unless you're scoring." The girl broke down and said that her father wouldn't talk to her unless she was playing well, including scoring. Relationships come first. We need to be able to see inside players' lives and that can be impossible.

Relationships. A talent team entered the playoffs as favorites. One girl "hijacked" another's boyfriend on the eve of the tournament. The team fractured and lost. Especially in women's college basketball, an unknown unknown is the dynamic among coaches and players, some of whom are gay. It shouldn't matter, but can affect playing time, opportunity, and outcomes. Really. 

Fairness. There's a saying, "if you want to find out about the coach, ask the twelfth player on the team." Perception is reality. Finding ways to make everyone feel valued changes lives. Are we doing enough to add value and show value

Energy. The coach must energize the team daily. We need our exercise, rest, and work-life balance. Teams reflect their coaches. Driving the bus doesn't entitle us to run anybody down

Inspiration. "Hang out with people who are better than you." If we want preparation and perspiration, then we share inspiration. I don't want to embarrass him, but a coach kindly shared this with me: 

This resonates so deeply with me after spending an evening with the players from our championship team.  It was great to hear their comments while I still walk the earth.

"I think our legacy as coaches won't be about how many games or championships that we won.  Our legacy as coaches is always going to be measured by how our players talk about us after we're gone".

Parents. You want parents who look out for the interests of their kids. If that makes them "helicopter parents" then so be it. Provide transparency to explain why we do what we do. We're not perfect; players aren't robots without feelings. 

Don't lose sleep over basketball dreams but life aspirations. Don't worry about making a reasonable basketball experience but an inspiring one.

Lagniappe: Hat tip, Radius Athletics (@RadiusAthletics)

Beating the blitz on the high ball screen? 

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