It was a busy afternoon. I had just finished a very important telephone conversation with a parent who was frustrated that his child was not getting enough playing time from his high school coach. During this parent and club coach session, I was listening more than talking. From my past experience with this parent, I knew that what was needed was for me to be there as a sympathetic pressure-release valve for the parent whose son is now a senior in high school.
Yes, he was a senior in high school and the parent was still trying to figure out why his "child" was not receiving enough playing time. The fact of the matter was that his son was receiving only a few minutes of playing time per game. Sometimes not at all.
All I could do was listen to the panic on the other end of the phone. I was tempted to give the parent the proverbial "I told you so, but you did not listen to me" speech, but I refrained. Forget the fact that this parent and player left my program after a few months of joining it and, after a 2 year hiatus, had returned to our training academy a few months before the high school season began. Back then, when they first joined my program, they were always listening to speak and not to hear and nothing had changed upon their return.
Two years ago, they did not want to listen to me about the concept of teamwork in terms of sharing the ball with teammates, spending time to learn the proper fundamentals and not relying so much on athletic ability. There were moments back then when I was tempted to drop down on my knees in a praying gesture to beg them to avoid the basketball precipice that was waiting for them at high school.
Before they left my program to what they thought would be "greener pastures," I was often derided by them as not being a good coach because I refused to give his son the ball so that he can carry the team to victory based on his pure athleticism and his ability to "dunk" the ball at will. It was your typical parent and player know it better than the coach mentality that is so prevalent in todays ESPNized basketball community.
Fast-forward to the telephone conversation. The parent ended the call by stating that once his son's high school season was over, that he was sending his son to a community college where true talent would be recognized and allow to flourish. I stayed quiet and simply listened.
"IF ONLY THEY HAD LISTENED TO ME WHEN I WAS TEACHING"
Once the conversation was over and I had disconnected the call, I was overcome with a sad feeling because the parent and player had not maximized their basketball dreams. If only they had listened to me years earlier when I was teaching them. Back then they had led me to believe that they were eager to learn.
As often happens to coaches, once certain parents and players receive a little basketball knowledge, they transform into the "know it all" mentality which drives them to kick to the curve a coach that they assume has no more to give. For them it is easier to listen to other club coaches who promise everything to include an easy path to basketball greatness if only the player would jump ship. Eventually, they did jump ship and now they were back and disappointed how things turned out.
"Hello Coach," stated the excited voice of a parent of one of my 7th graders. "How are you?", he went on to ask. In an instant, I remembered the year before when the 7th grader was in 6th grade and wanted to play club basketball but the only experience he had was YMCA league and very little skills-set training.
In the course of a year, this basketball beginning family listened and applied my teachings. They saw me as a basketball professional instructor whose message of teamwork, defense and the fundamentals as a foundation to build upon were to be adhered to as if the knowledge was coming from the almighty himself.
They respected me and my role as their coach.
Within the course of a year the player improved to become known in the community as one of the best 7th graders in his class and often successfully participated in scrimmages against much older players.
"We are looking forward to our next practice coach," stated the parent. "Whatever you say we will do so just point us in the right direction," the parent went on to say. At that moment, a wave of endorphins coursed through my system. I was elated and felt appreciated. This parent and 7th grader immediately catapulted me into the stratosphere of excitement about training & development. The responsibility and trust that they placed on me regarding their child, their most precious possession, was simply inspirational.
I was myself again. The basketball development challenge was on. The desire to teach to those that were eager to learn was rejuvenating. The original conversation that saddened me was a distant memory, somewhere in the past.....in another existence perhaps.
Coach Morales | Writer, Speaker, Teacher & Student