Thursday, August 22, 2013

Half-court Hijinks

My phalanx of teenagers are all presently at various forms of athletic participation. One is vying for a soccer career. The other three are pursuing joining school basketball teams or simply trying to hone their basketball skills. Ironically two of them (two boys) think it is way awesome to spend untold hours practicing half-court shots, while ignoring things like; fundamentals, skills drills, layups and perfecting positioning and jumpsuits. As the Dad and coach-by-default, I have to always call out that practicing this shot is a huge waste of time.

I'm met with disapproving stares, rolled eyes and exaggerated exhales.

Not that I'm not used to any of that (after all I am a Dad to one teenage girl and three teenage boys) but I am floored that this is news. "What does Dad know anyway? Its not like he plays in the NBA or anything…" 

True enough.

Yet, while I don't make a living at putting the ball through the hoop, I have played more street-ball, played in far more city and college intramural leagues and even squared off in a charity game against some pretty darn good ex-NBA players. So what do I know? 

What I DO know is that you don't get very good at something without practice. LOTS of practice. In author Malcolm Gladwell's Outliers: The Story of Success, he promotes the 10,000 hours rule that states it takes roughly that long to become (employable and) proficient at just about anything. 

I know there are no shortcuts to success (ask 80% of all lottery winners how it feels to file for bankruptcy after losing essentially un-earned millions), I know Rome wasn't built in a day (Look at it!) and I know you won't get a spot on the team shooting half-court shots. 

You see children-o'-mine, coaches look for heart, endurance and most importantly, dedication. They want to see you've committed to learning the fundamentals of a five-person TEAM sport, not try and snag all the glory on some lame hail-Mary 30-foot lob that has you looking more like a dork than a b-baller. 

But hey, I'm only Dad. I've only lived through this already and have the answers to these questions. So, ignore me and just keep shooting those half-court shots.

I'm sure it's just as fun watching the game from the bleachers, and hey–even though you won't have any skills worthy of getting you on the team–you'll have a killer half-court shot. 

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