February 2007

Basketball Team  When it seems as though society is lacking in many areas of decency and community, gratitude shouldn't be one of them. Using basketball as metaphor for life experience illustrates the abundance of positive energy that comes from demonstrating gratitude.


Take the ultimate basketball example: Scoring a basket. The casual fan or the young player sees the end result, the basket, and thinks nothing of it. It may not occur to them what went into scoring the basket. The great defensive play, the rebound in traffic, diving on the floor for a loose ball, the pass.


Perhaps the most beautiful play in basketball is a rebound, then an outlet pass on a rope, to a pass for a basket at the other end of the floor. The ball never touches the ground, instead touching multiple players in a matter of seconds for a score.


I recall watching Team USA in one of their first games this past summer. Dwight Howard snatched a tough rebound, turned and outlet the ball to Chris Paul at half court, who then threw a bounce pass to a streaking Dwayne Wade for a dunk. Immediately following his flush, Wade turned and acknowledged the rebound and outlet pass with a laser look and a wave to Howard. 
Mr. Wade knew who made his basket possible, because Mr. Wade is grateful to all who help him succeed. It is part of his personality and humility that make him a player teammates will run through a wall for.


Demonstrating gratitude on the court is contagious. It shows appreciative teammates are playing and thinking together. It creates a

synergy that is noticed by the opposing team. "My gosh, these guys are all on the same page!"... Not only that, but they are on the same word in the same sentence on the same page. Teams who are grateful for each other, play better for each other.


Remind your players to show gratitude for effort, for sacrifice--get them in the habit of saying "Thank you for being my teammate". To build on this concept, give a point for acknowledging an assist in scrimmages, a point for hustling over to help up a teammate who's just dived on the floor for a loose ball or fallen down.


Just as in life, basketball is a game of giving. Giving deserves to be appreciated. One must be grateful for what they receive...

Post Season Playoffs (Episode #10)

Podcast Logo

On to State where it's "One and Done".  Tom Newell and Guy Perry will explore the anxieties of post-season for parents, coaches, and players.  (Also see, Podcast #2, "Fans in the Stands".)
Coach Guy Perry and Coach Tom Newell talk about the negative impacts of holding AAU and Select Team tryouts immediately only days after the end of the season. Huge expectations can color an otherwise successful season, teams that make the state playoffs are penalized with immediate tryouts, and the lack of break can lead to kids leaving the sport. This episode follows up on podcasts #4 and #5, which look at the costs and benefit of these programs and provides some criteria for choosing a AAU or Select Team program.
With the basketball season ending, Coach Tom Newell and Coach Guy Perry talk to coaches, players, and parents about the importance of staying positive, avoiding would-a, could-a, should-a, and most importantly, taking a two-week break to identify, write down, and commit to goals to work on during the off- season. 

Coach Tom talks with Mikey who has to work hard to stay connected with his son and daughter's sports lives despite being divorced and being separated by long distances.

Officials with Whistles (Episode #6)

Podcast Logo

We expect officials to be perfect, but that's not possible in a game that is already a game of mistakes.  Coach Tom Newell and Coach Guy Perry discuss officiating, describe how to use humor in dealing with officials, and suggest parents and coaches be required to offficate.

Real Life Issues with Tissues 
The Day After Suspension...: "How to deal with the reality of making poor offcourt choices in a young student athlete's life..."  

This is a telephone exchange with one of my students the other day...

"Hi Coach, I've been trying to reach you and wanted to bring you up to date on how I'm doing...

When the season first started, I was doing okay until I hurt my quad training on my own trying to get into better shape for basketball, and it didn't get any better so I missed a few games and wasn't playing for awhile as it affected my knee's stability also...

BUT, the reason I am calling you, Coach is because I did something over the Holidays that got me into some serious trouble... I've NEVER been in trouble before, but went to this party that was at a teammate's house and their parents were gone, and it ended up getting busted by the Police... There was alcohol there and a lot of people... I went to it because my friends and teammates were going also and it was on MySpace for the invitation... Anyway, Coach, I was suspended along with 7 Seniors and a couple of other players on the Varsity and so were the Cheerleaders and some other students... The suspension is for the season, and I hope you'll forgive me and you'll still allow me to train with you on weekends..."

Here is my reaction...

"I am not disappointed nor discouraged by this life lesson of yours, Harold, rather I think your experience of understanding what "value" choices one makes when a student athlete has everything to do with leadership and listening to your conscience: "this doesn't feel right, I don't think I should go or do this now...". . .1 am sorry to hear about your basketball injury and perhaps this is a blessing in disguise so it can properly heal and you can come back strong in the Spring... It is difficult sometimes to know when we're given the freedom to make choices, both personal and "following others", (which invariably leads to something not-so-positive in the end for any teenager) and the end result causes harm to yourself or others (Family, teammates, coaches, classmates et al), you suffer the consequences, and in your case, suspension from an activity that you truly love and depend upon while attending high school...

That is not an easy remedy/lesson to accept or believe should be the consequence for your choice, but it is the school and team's rules that you broke and everyone has to suffer the same demise...

Coach Tom's suggestions...

 "Harold, have you sat down and handwritten a personal apology letter to the Principal, Athletics Director and your Coach?  Then I highly recommend you do this to demonstrate to them your complete acceptance and contrition for making a poor off court decision, and one that you will hopefully never make again as a minor... I am sure that your former teammates who also are suspended, the Seniors would not consider doing such, and now that you have two years of high school left you are presenting to the Administration and your Coaches that you indeed realize the ills of your mistake and hope they will forgive you for this event... Also, I hope you will find some way in your community whereby you can volunteer at a Boys and Girls Club, working with the kids there, thus demonstrating a leadership skill necessary to remind you of how important your decisions are away from your parents, coaches and others... I look forward to seeing you again in the gym with us, and you will survive this experience in positive fashion, Harold, and that is what is most important in the end: accepting responsibility..."

Coach Tom Newell discusses how to prepare before tryouts, the need to stay flexibile with assignments, and how to deal with being cut.  Tom also discusses parental expectations and responsibilities, how to deal with a bad experience, and alternatives to the expenses of a travel team.
Coach Tom Newell and Coach Guy Perry discuss hidden politics in tryouts, the importance of talking with other parents who have participated in the program, and our checklist that parents should use in determining whether a program is right for your kids.