Saturday, December 15, 2007

Watching Cousin Phil coach 4th grade basketball

Nothing could be more frustrating than coaching 4th grade basketball.

Phil's team lost: 31-20.

During the entire game, Phil's wife Melanie stood beside the bench, calculating and recalculating minutes played, so that all 8 players would play approx. the same number of minutes. This is a classic tableau of America in year 2007. If Norman Rockwell were alive, he would paint Phil coaching, and Melanie standing six feet from Phil, assiduously calculating player minutes.

With 16 seconds remaining the clock, down by 11, Phil three times reminded his team: "There are only 16 seconds left." And, this was good coaching. His players need practice at being aware of the clock.

With 10 seconds left, up by 11, the opposition coach called time-out so he could diagram an inbounds play, and thus give his team opportunity to practice it during the last 10 seconds of the game. Which, again, is just good coaching. The best practice your team ever gets, and the most improvement they ever make, always happen during actual games.

Phil committed one rookie coaching error: in the post-game huddle, Phil allowed a mother to distribute drinks to the players. This meant the players, for the remaining 60 seconds of the team huddle, were thinking of nothing except the blue Power-Ades they played with in their hands. A veteran coach will never allow any parent to get anywhere near a team huddle, for any reason. If the building is on fire, evacuation can wait until the brief team huddle concludes. Therefore: BACK AWAY FROM MY HUDDLE!

Phil is actually too nice to say this to a parent. He needs an assistant coach/enforcer whose main job is backing parents away - somewhat as a lion-tamer cracks his whip and moves lions where he wants them:


"Back away! Heeyaah! Back!

You! Freeze!

DO ... NOT ... OPEN

the ice chest."

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