Practice opens for our team this week with almost a completely new group of players. We have just one senior who has been in our program for three years and will welcome a host of newcomers, both to our program and to college basketball. It’s a daunting task for our staff, but an incredible opportunity to teach. As I look at my responsibility to implement offense and consider the previous 3PW articles about injuries (Preparing for Injury and Recovering from Injury), I’m reminded that offense starts suddenly. Injuries happen suddenly and so do changes of possessions on the floor. The first offensive concept we’ll work on this week is converting quickly and completely from defense to offense with a determined, focused idea of what we need to do. I think that’s a biblical concept that’s true in life, as well. When bad things happen, when disappointments and injuries occur, God gives us the wisdom and strength to convert our plans, our mindset, and our purpose.
BASKETBALL – Tempo is created in the first two steps!
We want to play an aggressive, attacking style of offense and so my first order of business will be to teach our players to react quickly to change. In fact, it’s so important that we will teach it, stress it, and drill it throughout our season. We’ll challenge our players physically and mentally to be able to handle a variety of changes by changing drills, speeding the pace of play with a shortened shot clock, and basically creating an atmosphere of havoc. Get ready, freshmen!
Our Pressure Convert Series is a set of drills derived from a full-court pressing defense taught by Andy Landers, the women’s coach at Georgia. After using the drills to teach press concepts, I realized that they have even more value for teaching players how to handle pressure in the full-court and to stress quick conversion to offense. I want players to handle pressure and to be able to quickly organize and attack as soon as we get the ball. That requires change of direction footwork skills, keeping your eyes up, and separating from your teammates to spread the defense out. In the case of a made basket, it will require an awareness of roles for each player and immediate communication. No matter what, the first few steps each player on the team takes will determine how effectively we can convert.
LIFE – Get a plan and get organized.
While it can generally be assumed that patience can be a key factor when we experience injuries and setbacks, too often many of us get lulled into using that as an excuse. When injuries and setbacks occur in our life, though, moving and on and growing through the injury has to be a priority. Wishful, hopeful thinking without action won’t do. In basketball terms, it means converting. If you stand around and wait, the game will pass you by.
When I’ve experienced setbacks in my life, I tend to rely on one of my favorite activities, reading. I love this line, “You are the same today as you’ll be in five years except for two things: the books you read and the people you meet.” Here’s a short list of great books that have helped me convert my focus and attitude when setbacks come:
In Shattered Dreams, Larry Crabb has written a wise, hopeful, honest, and realistic examination of life’s difficulties and tragedies. He wraps insights around the bold story of Naomi in the Bible’s book of Ruth to help move on difficult circumstances.
Plan B by Pete Wilson is a wonderful book that I keep pulling out again and again. Pastor Pete reaches beyond the typical Christian response to offer frank understanding, honest encouragement, and real hope by drawing on real-life stories from the Bible (David, Joseph, Mary, and Martha) and the present day.
Author Chuck Swindoll had a major impact on me when I young adult starting my career as a coach. Chuck makes scripture come alive in Living Above the Level of Mediocrity, as he helps point a new direction for living in this world. It’s a wonderful guide to help anyone looking to convert after disappointments.
Pat Conroy re-creates his pivotal senior year as captain of the Citadel Bulldogs and through it reflects on the setbacks in his own life. It’s a coming-of-age memoir about family, love, loss, basketball—and life itself, that helped me focus in on how basketball fits in my life.
FAITH – Put it behind and press on!
Hopefully, you know that Paul was the master at overcoming setbacks and persevering. Not only did he have his own dramatic faith conversion, but he sets the standard for moving on from injuries:
” . . . But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3: 13-14)
The spiritual point I want to make is that Paul’s words are action verbs – forget, strain, press. When setbacks come or when there’s a change of possession, God expects us to act and not allow circumstances to overwhelm us. When Jesus tells us:
“But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” (Matthew 6:33)
. . . He’s telling us to SEEK, which implies a strong-minded pursuit. So, as I’m teaching our players to convert on offense, I’m also praying that they learn to convert quickly when God wants them to respond to an adversity they may encounter.