Keeping Your Thumb On The Mouse

Posted: September 1, 2016 in Coaching, Opinion, Sports, Things I Love
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Listen, as a basketball coach I always listen to suggestions. Always. The day you think you know it all is the1 day you start regressing. Just as in life, you can never stop learning and trying to better yourself. That said, it doesn’t mean I take all advice to heart. People almost always have good intentions, even the former or current coaches who take one of my players aside and start giving them advice that is contrary to what I want taught. You see, there are several philosophies to coaching basketball, and many of them are right. There is no one, exact way to do it, but as long as you get your kids to believe your philosophy you’re good to go. For this reason you don’t want other people’s ideas being forced into their impressionable brains.

Make sense?

Anyway, over the years I’ve received a lot of advice from well-meaning people that, quite frankly, didn’t know what the hell they were talking about. Here are a few of my favorites:

Years ago I coached a team that, shall we say, weren’t the best shooters in the world. Our scores were usually low because we wanted to be patient and look for a good shot. We won a lot, but the scores were usually 48-41, 45-37 or 50-35 ( actual scores, I looked ’em up). I think we had a record of 9-2 or something about halfway through the season when an elderly gentleman moseyed up to me after a game with this gem:

“Coach, I think those boys need some shootin’ practice.”

Ah! Brilliant! I hadn’t thought of that! All I could do was smile and nod my head in agreement.

Sigh.

Another time I had a team that was having trouble getting the ball up the floor against pressure. At one point a guy comes up to me before a game and makes this suggestion:

“Coach, I’ve heard that some teams run a pressbreaker against presses. Why don’t you try that?”

Great idea! I didn’t have the heart to tell him that most coaches put their pressbreakers in the first week of the season, it’s just that we were so bad at ours that it was unrecognizable.

I think I may have mentioned this before, but once a kid’s father suggested that my players were too wound up before games and that I should find a way to make them more relaxed. My response?

“Let me ask you a question. Let’s say somebody calls you on the phone and says they’re on the way over to your house to beat your ass. Do you put on some relaxing music and have a glass of wine? You do not. I want my players wound up.”

Radical idea, I know.

Here’s a pretty good one. Once a mother walked up to me after a game with this pearl of wisdom:

“Coach, my advice to you would be to quit playing favorites.”

Parents, I have a confession to make. It’s true. Coaches do play favorites. They favor players who give the team the best chance to win, who have great attitudes, who work hard every day, who embrace their role (regardless of what that role is) and who support the program and believe in what we’re trying to do.

But as I said, a good coach will listen to any and all advice, it’s then up to him or her as to what to act on and what to ignore. Some of the best advice I ever received came from one of the first men I ever coached for, and it was beautiful in it’s simplicity:

“Keep your thumb on the mouse.”

Huh? Keep your thumb on the what? Never expected that one, did you? What does that mean, you ask? It means that no matter what happens, you keep coaching. Correct every mistake or it will be repeated. Every single one. There will be times when you become frustrated and want to let things go, but you just can’t. So you imagine you’re holding your thumb on a mouse. If you let up for one second, the mouse is gone. For good.

Now there’s some good advice.

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Comments
  1. Gonna try to remember that one–tho it’s kinda lat in the game for me.

Gimme a holler.

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