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. Continue reading
For the past three years I’ve been presenting my ideas about basketball and a variety of issues in life and faith, mostly from my perspective as a coach. We’ve explored trends in coaching, styles of play, practice planning, and leadership and have found applications for daily life and for living out a Christian faith. As the season approaches and many of us return to the court, I’d like to speak directly and honestly to players and as I do, I hope that you’ll see once again the many ways that basketball is a tremendous gift from God in helping us navigate life in a confusing world.
BASKETBALL – Spend Time
It’s the first day of practice and players will step onto the court in a completely new situation You see, even if you’re playing for the same team as last season and even if that team is coached by the same coaches, it’s a new year. Coaches adjust. After evaluating the past season and after being evaluated by their superiors, coaches often adjust. And if you are playing for a new team or playing for a different coach the lesson is still the same: Don’t wait for your coach to get to know you. Get to know your coach. Successful teams value relationships, but relationships are a two-way street. One of my lasting impressions from this year’s U.S. Men’s Olympic team came from watching a video of one of the team’s first practice sessions. As the players walked onto the court, almost all of them walked in with a coach or some other support person for the team, It was obvious they’ve learned the lesson of taking the time to build relationships! Here are a few suggestions for getting to know your coach once you hit the floor:
- Actively Listen: Stay involved when a coach explains a drill or teaches technique. Too many players zone out and try to catch up while watching other players. Listen to hear what points are stressed and listen like it’s the first time you’re being taught.
- Follow-Up: There’s a fine line between being an inquisitive pest and confirming what you’re hearing from a coach, but take time to ask clarifying questions. Genuinely seek for background explanations on your coach’s methods and philosophy – just do it without interrupting the flow of a practice or meeting.
- Exchange Opinions: It can easily begin with basketball, like what happened in an NBA game or about what’s happening on the college coach or transfer carousel, but having conversations with your coach on a variety of subjects will help you get to know their perspective, but also express who you are as a player and as a person.
- Open Up: Unloading on your coaches may feel a bit threatening, but players who wear a false front often struggle with their relationships with coaches. Be who are and let your coaches know why you’re playing the game. That helps your coach find the best ways to keep you motivated.
LIFE – Spend Time
As the busyness of life consumes us, the quality of relationships can easily take a hit. One of my biggest regrets in my life was that as a Division I coach I allowed far too many of my closest friendships to fall by the wayside. Let’s face it, it was difficult enough to focus on my marriage and a growing family. But taking the time to truly invest in nurturing friendships was too often overshadowed by professional networking, which can often be superficial,or in the typical church social settings in which so many people rarely scratch the surface of what is truly going on with others. I’ve been challenged in this area recently through Craig Groeschel’s book Dare to Drop the Pose: Ten Things Christians Think but Are Afraid to Say.
Many of us hate to admit it, but as life becomes more complex many of us can feel extreme loneliness. As Groeschel suggests, we might conclude. that we have to perform for others, we can’t trust others, and that other people do not truly care about us. That may seem extreme and pessimistic, but many of at various points in our lives may feel that kind of loneliness. The only solution? You have to spend time and take the risk of reaching out to others, rather than wait for them to reach out to you!
FAITH – Spend Time
I’m amazed when I hear Christians, including me, say “I really want to trust God more, but why doesn’t He speak to me in more obvious ways? Why can’t I hear Him?” Like a player who wants his coach to understand him better and to relate to him more, we need to spend quality time getting to know God. If you want to know God, you have to be near God. If you want to hear God, you have to clear out the distractions, open up, and actively listen.
The Bible tells us:
“Be still and know that I am God” Psalm 46:10
That’s how you get to know Him. You take the time, you open your Bible, and you talk to him about your perceptions, your concerns, your ambitions, and your challenges. And then, you follow-up. You act on what He tells you. If you make the effort, God will respond.
Next week, I’m anxious to get to know our players – both on the court as players, but also as young people finding their niche in a difficult world. The best relationships I have had have grown from players who are willing to get to know me, just as I extend myself to them. For some, it’s not an easy thing and can take a while – but like our father in heaven, I’ll patiently keep after them.