Lessons I learned playing basketball

Published 9:31 pm Thursday, January 23, 2020

By Tonya S. Swindell

“Basketball is my favorite sport. I like the way they dribble up and down the court…” were memorable lyrics co-written and performed by rap pioneer Kurtis Blow in the song “Basketball,” which debuted in 1984. The catchy tune brings back memories of when I played the sport as a kid and later when my husband and I played in local gymnasiums. We passed down our enjoyment of basketball to my oldest son. Now, we try to teach him ways in which the game of basketball relates to life.

Our hope is that he will learn: “To come back from a setback, you need to move around and rebound. To make success last after someone throws you a pass, take your shot. That way you will win a lot.”

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Some of the most exhilarating games occurred when my son’s team won after being down by several points. While playing defense, they blocked out or stood with their backs directly in front of an opponent with knees bent and arms outstretched, poised to recover the ball after a missed shot. While on offense, the players dribbled or passed the ball to get as close to the goal as possible. Then teammates took shots and scored points so they could win the game.

Setbacks will occur on the basketball court and in life. Overcoming them will require blocking out negative thoughts that threaten to hinder progress. Moving toward important goals will require collaborating with others, having a plan and following it.

Winning involves making several attempts and taking various risks. If my son makes a mistake on the basketball court, he may benefit from hearing the old adage: “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.” It may also help him to remember that he is guaranteed to miss 100 percent of the shots that he chooses not to take.

Recently, I learned an interesting fact about Kobe Bryant, who is one of my son’s favorite NBA players. During the 2014 season in which Kobe played shooting guard for the Los Angeles Lakers, he broke two world records: one for the highest number of missed shots and another for being one of the league’s highest all-time shot makers. He kept shooting and ultimately had a good result.

My son has learned that winning isn’t everything, and losing is just an opportunity. Improvement will require his consistent discipline, persistence and steady vigilance.

He should take his time while shooting from the free throw line. And if he follows his coach’s plan, he is more likely to win.

So we encourage my son to practice with an attitude that’s above average; to be an excellent scholar whose actions demonstrate honor. We say, “Do your best and God will do the rest. Show up for every game with your heart in the right place. Remember to take some risks and prepare yourself to win. Have an attitude of gratitude and promise to have some fun too!”

Tonya Swindell is an occupational therapist. She is also a teacher for Kingdom Building Institute (kingdombuildinginstitute.org). She can be reached at 1brightot@gmail.com.