Column – “Box out” to prepare for tackling new goals in ’23

Published 6:39 pm Friday, January 20, 2023

Standing partially bent over with his arms extended to each side and his elbows forming near 90-degree angles, Coach T demonstrated to his players the perfect stance to defend their chance at a rebound.

“That’s how you box out if you want that basketball when it comes out the hoop,” he instructed. The team of 8- and 9-year-olds giggled at one another as they rehearsed the stance thrusting their elbows out just as he had shown them. When Coach T lobbied a ball towards the goal, they exclaimed, “box out, box out” in anticipation of the ball falling through the hoop. They seemed to follow his example pretty well. He smiled as he wondered whether they will remember this when it really matters…during the game. It’s one thing to box out in practice but it’s harder when you are defending against a real opponent.

Right now these little league players only see that defensive stance as a tactic needed to get a rebound in the game of basketball. Yet it also applies when you are defending your life particularly as it relates to striving for something that you want. Every player must learn how to “box out well” and to do it in every defensive position. Boxing out is a strategy.


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We create many strategies at the start of the new year. On New Year’s Day, I sat on the floor of my family room with my three children and we all created our vision boards. Admittedly, I was proud of myself for doing this with them. I learned so much about their goals and visions.

My 9-year-old, who is a member of the basketball league with Suffolk Parks and Recreation, wants his team to go to the season’s playoffs this year. We talked about what it takes for him to achieve that goal. Recently, when he came home from school limping because he had not made wise choices on the playground, my husband who happens to be his basketball coach, had to have a talk with him about how injuries affect his goal. My son instantly learned that making wise choices is a means of setting boundaries.

Just as much as we are goal setting at the beginning of the year, we should also be boundary setting. Every goal has to have a boundary. For example, if you desire to lose weight in the new year, then perhaps you no longer eat dinner after 7 p.m. or you don’t allow yourself to have certain sugary snacks anymore. If you want to save money to buy a car, then you have boundaries each month for how much you spend recreationally. If you want to have more time for self-care, you have certain blocked hours on your calendar that you don’t allow anyone to interrupt. Goals are not achieved just because we are working towards them. Just like in basketball when we have to take a defensive stance against the opponent to keep him/her from getting what we want, we have to have a defensive stance in life. You have to box out the opponent. The opponent is anything or anyone who stands in the way of you reaching that goal.

Boxing out is not easy in basketball because it is an uncomfortable stance. It is not easy in life either. Everything seems to infringe upon the territory that you set. For that reason, God gave us elbows. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not sideline-coaching you into a foul on the basketball court. Yet, every good basketball player knows how to use those elbows correctly to box out his opponent. I’m simply saying you got to know what to use to keep your boundaries up and your defenses tight.

I was praying the other day asking God to remove some things in my life. In response, God revealed to me this message about boundaries. For many of us, we are dealing with things we don’t want to deal with simply because we have not set boundaries. Setting boundaries is our box out defense stance to keep the opposing influences and counterproductive activity at bay so that we can achieve success. James 1:25 in the Message Bible says, “But whoever catches a glimpse of the revealed counsel of God—the free life!—even out of the corner of his eye, and sticks with it, is no distracted scatterbrain but a man or woman of action. That person will find delight and affirmation in the action.” Sticking with the law of God creates good boundaries. Through the law, we are empowered to practice discipline which will produce results.

Coach T taught the young basketball team how to “box out” during practice. Yet, they won’t experience the reward of the rebound if they don’t implement what they learned during the basketball game. Likewise, we won’t experience a fulfilled life and walk uniquely in our purpose if we don’t implement what we read in the Word of God during our everyday life. Keeping your boundaries means you’re not distracted. You are being true to the vision God has given you. So elbows up in the Year 2023! We have some goals to achieve.


QuaWanna N. Bannarbie is a Christian writer and teacher from historic Americus, Georgia.  Connect with her via Instagram @beingQuaWanna or send an email to