When Not Listening To Your Father Is The Right Thing To Do

Posted: July 31, 2014 in Coaching, Inspiration, Kids, Sports, Things I Love
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You know, as a coach I always tell my players to respect their parents and listen to what they’re basketball_24703752_stdbeing told at home. Sometimes, though, that can actually be bad advice . . .

Years ago I had a player on my team that had played for another coach the year before. That coach had let this player do things on the court that I wasn’t comfortable with him doing, so it was quite a change for him (incidentally, you could have said that about the entire team). For instance, he’d been allowed to shoot 3-pointers even though he wasn’t very good at it. I don’t know, I have this thing about only letting players take shots that they can, you know, make.

In addition, he’d been a starter the year before but I was bringing him off the bench.

Anyway, the kid adapted pretty well, his father not so much.  He couldn’t understand why some players were allowed to do certain things and others weren’t, especially his son. A meeting was set up and dad was pretty ticked off. He wasn’t being real mature and at one point sort of screamed this at me:

“Why the hell won’t you let my boy shoot 3-pointers? He’s wide open out there!”

At this point I’d had enough, so I leaned back in my chair and said this:

“Well, you realize why he’s wide open, right? The other teams want him to shoot.”

Well, that didn’t go over so well and things sort of went downhill from there. He then accused me of playing favorites, which I readily agreed with. After all, it’s a coach’s job to pick his favorites and play them the most, right? And his favorites always happen to be the players who work the hardest, listen, let themselves be coached, and do what’s asked of them to help the team succeed.

Anyway, he left in a huff and slammed the door on the way out, grumbling that he was going to tell his kid to quit. The next night we had a game and my expectations regarding the kid hadn’t changed, of course. He showed up and we won the game, but I was told the father stormed out during the third quarter.

Afterwards, after everyone had left the gym I was sitting in my office by myself calling in the game stats to the local paper. It was around 11:00pm and there was a knock at my door. I opened it, and there stood the player in question. I thought, “Well, here we go. He’s here to turn in his uniform and quit.”

Instead, this happened. He asked to sit down, and after he did he looked at me and said this:

Coach, I want you to know something. My dad loves me. When he watches us play I’m the only thing he sees. He has no idea what we’re trying to accomplish. Well, I do. And I have no problem with what you’re asking of me because all I want to do is win. Whatever it takes, I’ll do it.”

This, from a 17-year old kid. Pretty insightful, don’t you think? And he believed this even though he was hearing a dissenting opinion every single night in his home. He could have easily listened, made excuses, blamed me, and quit.

But he didn’t.

And you know what? By the end of the season he’d become a damn good player and was starting.

So yes, in this rare case, I’m glad he didn’t listen to his father.

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