Sports provide a great venue for bumps, bruises and life lessons, even when they get started at a young age.
A few weeks in to my daughter’s first basketball season it clicked. I saw it. She was at her weekly Monday night practice, she took a few shots and I could tell it was different for her. She realized how all of the movements fit together to make the shot. Previously she struggled to get the ball above the rim and it was as if a light switch flipped and she had figured it out.
She has always been active and into sports but we hadn’t had much success with sports leagues, as she and her twin sister have been a bit young for organized sports. While she is still pretty small for her age, I think her mom and I were both a little nervous to see how this basketball season would go.
As the first season wraps up I realize just how great it was for her. It is remarkable really, how far she came in just six weeks. Thanks to having a great coach and her increasing interest in practicing at home, she learned some valuable lessons:
The first practice was intimidating, the first game even more so. Pretty natural for a six year old to be a little intimidated at meeting new people and trying something they haven’t done before. I don’t think in the first game she even took a shot. She didn’t run very hard, and was hesitant to go for the ball.
It wasn’t long into the season before she ran out onto the court as soon s we got to practice, wanted to play with her friends, was excited to practice her shooting and didn’t need encouragement to run up and down. I hope she takes this experience that she can overcome whatever fear and anxiety comes her way as she gets older.
Given her limited experience playing in organized sports, she started off slow to engage with other kids. It didn’t take long and she was diving on the floor to wrestle with an opposing player over a lose ball. She was proud of the scraped knees and the realization she could be pretty damn tough when she chose to be.
The fourth game one of the teams was short on players so they played 4 on 4. All of the kids got to be more active, dribble the ball up more and take shots. Every kid seemed to enjoy it. My daughter took more shots that game than she did the rest of the year combined, and scored 10 points. She was so proud. Talked about it at her mom’s house all weekend. The next week we practiced on the driveway and she was quick to tell me how good she was. It was clear she considered herself a basketball player…and a pretty good one at that!
Learn from failure
When we first started practice, she would get frustrated with missing shots or not being able to control the ball when she dribbled. About the same time the light bulb went on for shooting, she realized the connection between all of the misses and then the makes. She wanted to practice every night when we got home from school and each night wanted to try something just a little more challenging. As she learned that she could get better with a little practice she became less frustrated.
At the end of the day, all youth sports should be about getting better and having fun. Practice consisted of shooting and dribbling games. They had a great coach and she couldn’t wait to go each week. The league she was in didn’t keep score and did a great job emphasizing how fun sports can be. That point certainly wasn’t lost on her as she is already talking about the next time she gets to join a basketball league.
Growing up sports were a big part of my life and I’ve always believed there are valuable lessons to learn through the hard work and competition they require. Watching for the first time with the view of a parent, I am amazed at how great this experience was for her. I’m hoping the lessons she learned transfer to future activities and she realizes how much fun competition can be.
Photo Credit: flickr.com/Karl Baron
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