Monday, September 30, 2013

Back In The Saddle Again (Not By Choice)

For the first time in a long while, I was forced to miss a league basketball game due to injury.  I suffered a hand injury during a softball tournament this past Saturday.   My right hand was quite swollen Saturday, Sunday and Monday.  Despite my hope that the hand would get better by game time tonight, it wasn't meant to be.  Ultimately, I made the game time decision to sit out to rest my hand.   My hope is the injury is just a bruise / sprain and nothing more serious than that.  

Despite the fact that I wasn't planning to play, I dressed anyway.  My team was missing one other player and only played with six players.  I figured I would only enter as an emergency sub if needed.  Fortunately, I wasn't needed though I resisted temptation to enter the game a few times.  My team hit some bad stretches where we were struggling.

With my ability to play limited, I was in full coaching mode as I pulled out my coaches clipboard and was marking it up all night.  It's a little ironic.  I don't remember the last time I sat out a game due to injury as it's been a while.  It's also been a while where I had STRICTLY been a coach and not a "player / coach".  My last OFFICIAL team I coached was a youth (8th grade girls) team around 2005.  Since then I had been strictly been a player / coach for my adult leagues that I played in. 

Thinking back to tonight's game, it reminded me how tough it is to be a coach.  You have to know your players strengths and weaknesses.  Then you have to figure out how to maximize their strengths and minimize their weaknesses.  

Tonight was a little harder as some players were forced to play out of position with me and the other player missing.  The other player is a vet who can handle the ball and let some of our players focus on scoring.  I did not grow up playing basketball with training as a point guard but have assumed those duties in recent years.   I'm not a great ball handler or distributor.  However, I have a good feel to tempo of games and when things get out of whack, I slow things down to let the team get back into balance. 

Alas, as a coach, you have to trust and rely on your players to do the right things.  If they are not, then you have to teach them.  But unlike coaching youth basketball where you have practice, games are the practices.  So it's a little tough when players are doing things that are not exactly what you want them to do. 

Thus patience is the last thing.  I've definitely changed a bit since 2005.  I was still a bit of a screamer to my 8th grade girls basketball team in 2005.  Tonight, I wasn't screaming much. I was mainly directing players a lot as I saw the action unfold.  

While coaching (paid or otherwise) is a tough gig, it's actually pretty rewarding.  While I wasn't asking to coach tonight, it was good to back in the coach's seat again.  Hopefully, it will be the last time in my adult leagues as I get back on the court as a player soon.   I wouldn't mind coaching again at some point though.  


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