Waiting in Basketball: Why Is It So Hard?

In an age of basketball dominated by quick scoring, “7 Seconds or Less Offense” and shot clocks, patience is a forgotten concept.  The game is played at a fast pace, so most of us coaches practice fast and train our players to push the pace.  And part of that is a reflection of not only our fast-paced society, but also a generation of players that has grown up experiencing their entire life in an instant gratification world.  Patience is often foreign, to all of us, but as our celebration of Christmas closes, is a vital element in our Christian faith.

BASKETBALL – Wait on It!

Tim Gangloff/CSM(Credit

Watch any NBA game and you will see the benefits of patience.  Watch a youth ball or high school game and you’ll see the exact opposite – for college teams, you’ll see something in between.  The greatest athletes in the world of the NBA often frustrate us with what may seem like half-hearted effort, but look more closely and you’ll see the importance of patiently well-timed cuts and reads that happen so quickly.  It appears slow, but they move so quickly.  Inexperienced players, however, just move without thinking and often fail to wait for teammates or fail to recognize the timing of cuts and passes.  As our team continues to develop this year, I’ve said “Wait on it!” more times than I can count.  Here are just a few basketball concepts in which patience is a virtue:

  1. Dribble Moves – There are certainly occasions to catch the ball, sweep, and attack, but far too many players lack patience in using the dribble and drive on top of teammates or into help defense.
  2. Post Moves – Patiently reading your defense and seeing help defenders is typically a good course of action for anyone in the low post.
  3. Screens – This is a biggie! Wait for teammate to set a screen before using it and wait for teammates to use your screen before diving or popping.  Too many games are negatively impacted by impatient screening!
  4. Spacing – Impatient cutting and flashing distorts any spacing.  Too frequently, impatient players cut on top of teammates or move as if they are the only player on the court.  Australian coach Liam Flynn has it right in his tweet Wait, Fake, Sprint.  And far too often, players with the ball grow impatient as their teammates carry out cuts or screens.  Let the action develop!
  5. Player Development – Some players adjust and develop more slowly than others, but far too often all of us grow impatient with development.  Players want to play, right away, and coaches want players to contribute, right away – but, developing skills and court awareness for many is a systematic process.  This is especially true for post players at the college level.  Be slow to give up on the big man!
  6. Program Development – I love to hear Mike Krzyzewski relate the patience that former Duke athletic director Tom Butters displayed in allowing a young Coach K and his Duke team to develop through a difficult beginning to what has grown into a college dynasty.  Patience like that is almost non-existent these days!

LIFE – Why is Patience a Bad Word?

The problem with patience is that many of us have the wrong perspective about what it means to wait.  Too often we equate patience with sitting and doing nothing.  We live in a world where that is frowned upon.  You gotta’ keep moving, gotta’ keep striving, gotta’ do more – yet, many times the last thing we need to do is force the issue.  As the young people in my family can attest, I want nothing more than for my kids to find the right person to marry.  But, I don’t want to force the issue and I don’t want them to rush into a mistake.  I want them to wait patiently – not do nothing.  I want them to date and to learn to relate to other people.  I want them to find their own identity.  I want them to learn how to truly care about another person and to learn how to sacrifice for the good of others, while they are patiently waiting for God’s plan.  The same is true in our careers and in our friendships.  Too often we force the issue and run ourselves into mistakes – much like the players on our team frequently force the issue on offense without allowing for spacing and without making the extra pass for better opportunities.  It’s hard to be patient, but when you realize patience is an active response it isn’t really a bad word at all!

FAITH – Actively Waiting

All of us are waiting for something.  As Christians we just finished the Christmas season during which we celebrate God coming to us as baby – people waited thousands of years for that! – and we acknowledge that we are now waiting again for Jesus to return.  God has not forgotten us.  Just because he hasn’t returned or He hasn’t answered a prayer, it doesn’t mean He has abandoned us and so, we wait.

“It is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.” (Lamentations 3:26)

The question is, what do you do while we wait.  For one, we can give Him praise.  I mean really praise Him.  Praise him so that it drowns out everything else that demands your allegiance, your affection, your anxiety, and your time.

Secondly, we can be still.  We don’t have to force the issue.  We don’t have to do things our own way, no matter how right or noble we think are actions are.  Take time to hear God’s will and:

Be still, and know that I am God.”  (Psalm 46:10)

And finally, as Pastor Rick Warren related in a recent devotion, “remember that you’re in good company in God’s waiting room. You’re not alone. In fact, if you’re in the waiting room right now — maybe you’re waiting on a job, (on more playing time), on an answer, or on a prayer — there are a lot of other people around you who are in that same situation.

Think about Hannah, who had to wait years to have the baby that she was praying God would give her.  Think about Joseph, who had a God-given vision of being a ruler from a very young age but spent years in a prison for a crime he did not commit.  Think of Moses, who wandered in the wilderness for 40 years while he waited to receive his next assignment and to know his purpose in life.  Think about Noah, who waited 120 years before it rained.  God waited thousands of years before sending the Messiah. We get in a hurry. But God is not in a hurry. Waiting is essential to your faith”.

“After waiting patiently, Abraham received what was promised” (Hebrews 6:15 NIV)

And for those of you who have been waiting for a Christmas edition of 3 Point Wisdom, thank you for patiently waiting!


2 thoughts on “Waiting in Basketball: Why Is It So Hard?

  1. Happy New Year Coach Cain – GREAT article – can’t wait to share it with Trevor
    Good luck the rest of the year!!!!!

    • Thanks, Brian! Blessings to you as well. I saw Trev at the Shootout and have been reminded daily how much we miss his quickness! He needs to be a guest writer on the website one of these days!

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