Thursday, July 25, 2013

Calling My Own Number

Tonight, my Wednesday night summer basketball league team got blown out by about 20 points.    That dropped my team's record to 1-3. One of our main guys was missing.  Another guy was coming off an injury.  One of my players is leaving after next week.   So my team was in a bit of a flux tonight and I just rolled with the punches.

Yet, as the captain, I need to rally the troops a bit.  After the game, I asked one of my players what he was seeing.  He said that our offense is just not clicking.  Our team as a whole has been passive.  The player told me that I NEEDED TO START SHOOTING MORE.

His thought was that someone needs to step up and be more aggressive.  I had to reluctantly agree.  Before the season, I envisioned several of my guys carrying the bulk of the offense.  I planned to be the usual role players that I like to do.  Shoot a little bit.  Rebound a little bit.  Play a little point guard.  That's what I excel at.

Yet, my team's only win of the season was when I scored 16 points and carried the team a bit.  I admit that I've been passive offensively the past few weeks.  Tonight, I was not feeling it.  I was a little tired from sleeping a little late last night.  I felt a little heavy from eating a fairly large lunch.  Though I could get up and down the court, I had trouble getting lift on my jumpers.

If my team is still going to be struggling offensively, I may take things into my own hands next week.  I have to mentally prepare to step things up  a bit in advance of the playoffs in three weeks.   It's not my usual MO but I've done it before and will try to do it again.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Adaptability Is One Key To Coaching (or Leadership)

When I first volunteered to coach youth basketball many years ago, I had no idea what I was doing.  I had minimal experience playing basketball let alone COACHING basketball.    I was just a screamer who didn't know what I was talking about.  I've never been one to remain static so I dug into various books about basketball including ones on coaching philosophy, skill development and tactical details. 

Fast forward to 2013 and things have changed quite a bit.  I coached youth basketball for about 15+ years and learned a lot about skill development, coaching philosophies and communication.  What has advanced my coaching is the fact that I have PLAYED in adult leagues for the past 20+ years.  Coaching without playing experience of any kind is a difficult thing.   So now I can talk about strategy and tactics much better than I could in the past.  

Despite having all this experience, I believe one of the keys in coaching is adaptability.   One reason I believe this is within the current structure where I spend most of my time coaching these days.  When I coached my youth basketball teams in the past, I had time for practices.   I could talk to my teams about my expectations and gear practices toward what I needed done.  Practices also gave me insight into all of my players and what they could do. 

Currently, I do not coach any youth basketball. I spend time playing in adult draft basketball leagues AND volunteering to be a captain (aka coach) of the team as well.   Unlike my youth teams, I don't have any practices.  Plus, these are draft leagues so you get new sets of players just about every season.   Many times, I learn about the team on the fly.  If you happen to have great players that mesh well, you're all set.   As we all know, it's not always going to happen. 

The challenge becomes to figure out your players, their styles, skills and put all of them into one consistent team while they are playing.  That requires a ton of adaptability.    Whatever strategies you used the season before may not work as you have different players. 

Beyond the strategy, adaptability in communication is key.  I learned early on that every kid responded differently to me.  I had to adjust to maximize the abilities of my kids.  With adults, I feel most listen to you if you stay generic.   However, there will always be some that are stubborn or take more time to connect to.  This requires a lot of experimentation.  Sometimes you get through and sometimes you don't.  

I mention this because of our softball game today.  We lost and a lot of us made mistakes.  I know I made plenty today and can self adjust.  Some players are newer and may have felt bad due to some of the mistakes.  Even though I'm not the captain of the softball team, I chatted with one of the players and quietly pointed out what happened and what the expected outcome was supposed to be. 

After all, knowing a mistake was made is good.  Knowing WHY is better.   Just taking some of the lessons I learned in years past to all the teams I participate in.  

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Basketball Is Important But Family Is Most Important Of All

I've been involved playing and coaching basketball for over 20+ years.  I've been on championship teams and winless teams.  I've watched some of my teams win by 30 and also lose by 30.  So you can say that I've seen just a lot of basketball related things over the years.

This week, something happened which I had never seen before though.  A teammate of mine that is playing with me on a summer league basketball team told me they had to leave the team to return home for some family things they needed to address.   To put it into context, the teammate is not just departing the team but also quitting their job to move back home.  The reason for departing is very personal and I won't repeat the reason here.

Knowing the reason why the teammate had to move, I understood why the decision was made.  Out of many people, I was probably one who understood just how tough this decision was.  This teammate is a lot like me.  They love basketball and it's their way of having fun and getting away from the stresses of life. Having to give basketball up (at least here is this area) is a tough choice but one that had to be done.

However, this move illustrates just how important FAMILY is in the overall scheme of things.  All of us have our hobbies and it's great that we can enjoy them.  But family trumps everything and sacrifices have to made.  I've been learning this lesson in recent months.  Due to some personal family things I've had to deal with, there's been some sacrifices that I've done on my part.

Our team had a miserable game tonight as we lost by 30.  While I wasn't too thrilled with the team's performance, I talked to my teammate for a while after the game.    The game was forgotten as I let them talk a bit about their situation plus I offered my thoughts and support for them.

To be honest, I am being very generic here in calling this person a "teammate" but I now consider them a friend.  We haven't know each other that long but we've had a lot of experiences together, especially our Spring Basketball league championship that we won back in May.

This teammate / friend isn't leaving just yet so this isn't a farewell.   But as I blogged back in May, the championship gave us some lifetime connections.   So even if this friend has to depart from us for now, I am certain I will see them again in the future.

Friday, July 12, 2013

KTVU / NTSB Asiana Name Gaffe

By now, If you live in the SF Bay Area, you have already heard the story about a HUGE gaffe that occurred at KTVU Channel 2 (Oakland, CA).  If you haven't have a look at the story below (plus video):

KTVU apologizes for racist SF plane crash gaffe

That's been some varying reactions to this.  As expected, a lot of Asian Americans have taken offense to this gaffe.  Asian Americans have a lot of jokes made at their expense.  Sometimes, these jokes are funny.  Sometimes they are not.  In this case, since this particular gaffe was involving the recent Asiana accident at SFO, it is even more appalling that this occurred.

While I don't particularly feel outraged over the gaffe, I do not find it particularly funny.  The gaffe was involving the name of the pilots of the Asiana plane.  The pilots are likely not feeling too hot these days.  The accident that occurred has taken three lives though we are really lucky that there weren't a lot more.

It is interesting to watch other people's reactions.  At my office, where there are a mix of Asians and non-Asians, most of the non-Asians thought it was funny but were surprised this gaffe slipped through. Was it racist?  Whoever's idea it was, I don't think it was racist.  But it has racial overtones and that's never a good thing in my mind.

Asian-Americans aren't necessarily a loud voice but this was one gaffe no one's going to forget anytime soon.