You first joined your sport as a kid and were having so much fun! You had no thought in the world, you just ran around with all your other friends. You naturally did better than others and continued on playing that sport in grade school. You begin to wonder why practice is so long and why coach is yelling and pulling their hair out that much.
You also begin to recognize that you can’t seem to do a specific drill well, because coach is always correcting you. The “fun” spark begins to diminish a little. You just want to have fun with your friends like old times, so the team bands together in solidarity for their hatred of their coach. The team now is believing that the coach should just “let them play.” And internally you guys are saying that you don’t need all of this practicing. Yet if the team loses you guys get upset.
That is the characterization of teams that I have seen personally and narratives that I’ve heard other coaches tell me is true of High School & Collegiate sports.
But there is a different mindset that trends through that same process. The kid that is good and wants to get better (the elite person), likes the fun of being around their peers but at some point they invite another thing into the fun feeling also.
What is it??
They have fun and they also appreciate the nuances of understanding their game. That turns the game from a body experience only to a mind experience too.
When I worked at Advent Group Ministries (a Group Home), we had an adjustable basketball rim in our driveway and myself and some of the guys in the home played basketball at least once every week. It was alot of fun…especially for me because I won most of the times.
There was a young man there from Oakland, Ca who was very competitive and couldn’t stand the fact that I won all the time. That is until I taught him one skill – the jab step. I taught him to jab at the defenders foot that is closest to him and if they didn’t move it back, attack it and most often you will get the layup.
And games that he played against other the other youth in the house that used to be 5-10 minutes games lowered to about 2-4 minute games. He did less work but still had fun. The other young men began to say, “I’m not having fun anymore.”
That’s the appreciation factor. If an athlete doesn’t appreciate their game more than just being physically happy then they will say, “I’m not having fun anymore.” The fun factor at some point (especially when in college) has to extend to accept appreciating your game from a mental point of view.
Without that, you play without full understanding of the game that you love. And all you really like about it is that it keeps you around friends that you like.
The “problem,” for some athletes, that comes with appreciation, is that it will demand you to put in the physical work so that you can give the level of intensity needed to do the skill well.
Now appreciation has taken your body which was used to just experience your “fun” and is subjecting it to strength development. What???
Anyway. If you want to enjoy your game, be ready to accept appreciating its nuances or you will be depressed often the higher up you go. #PushForward #JOC