When I go jogging, my knees have a habit of reminding me how many hours I spent pounding around on basketball courts when I was much younger. Basketball was my first love—still is. My coach in high school was A. Z. Johnson. I have no idea what the Z stood for; when he was out of earshot, we called him Coach “Zero.” I now realize that what I learned from him was more about life than basketball; today I would call him Coach “Ten.”
In no particular order, here are some of my hardwood “hard lessons” that still apply to my life—and yours.
Don’t beat yourself. In basketball, too many turnovers and stupid fouls and you’re sure to lose. Life is the same way.
Don’t watch your shot. While the ball is in the air, there are better things to do than just watch it—go for the rebound or get back on defense. Watching is for spectators, not players.
Don’t hog the ball. Unless you are playing one-on-one in the driveway, basketball is a team game. So is life.
Passing is quicker than dribbling. It is a lot easier and faster to move the ball with a pass and there is less chance of bouncing the ball off of your foot (see the lesson on turnovers).
When you are ahead, keep the clock running. Momentum is important in basketball, life, business, wherever. When you have it, don’t relax, ramp it up.
When the clock isn’t running, catch your breath, plan your next play and hit your free throws. In this ever-faster pace we live at, there aren’t many moments when the clock is stopped. Take advantage of them.
There’s no such thing as a long pass. Coach Johnson would go ballistic when we launched a long down-court pass, even if we connected. Two or three short passes are much less risk than one long pass. A long pass is like a “get rich scheme; remember, “Wealth from get-rich-quick schemes quickly disappears; wealth from hard work grows over time.” (Proverbs 13:11 NLT)
Don’t eat a lot of popcorn before the game. I won’t give you the backstory, but sufficient to say is a stomach full of greasy, buttery popcorn doesn’t improve your game or your life.
It’s not over until the “fat lady sings.” Oh, wow! The Packers learned that in spades this past Sunday when they squandered a 19-7 lead with less than three minutes to go. My junior year in high school, we began to celebrate a five-point lead over our biggest rivals with one minute to go. I don’t need to tell you the rest of the story, you can guess.
I will go jogging this afternoon and I’m sure my knees will ache a bit tomorrow. I’m going to blame it on basketball, not my age. (Maybe there’s a lesson in denial here.)
Let me know by return comments which of these lessons you have learned—either on a basketball court, or on life’s court.
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© Copyright 2015 by Dick Wells, The Hard Lessons Company
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