On coaching a very bad basketball team

Screen Shot 2016-01-24 at 12.04.03 AM

I am the coach of my son’s basketball team, the Gatorsaurs.

Following today’s 32-9 loss, we are 0-5, with two games remaining. We are, truly, terrible.

I didn’t believe this would bother me—our awfulness. I entered the season thinking, “Hey, if we have fun that’s all that matters.” And, even with a .000 winning percentage, I still consider such to be true. Fun is—hands down—the most important thing. Winning is nice (I imagine), but hardly imperative.

And yet …

I’m sorta kinda starting to lose it.

My kids are 7, 8 and 9. They refuse to rebound. Or try to rebound. They want to, I think. But they don’t. No matter how many times I stress boxing guys out, fighting for the ball … well, it doesn’t matter. They stand beneath the hoop, looking up, arms extended, feet glued to the floor. On offense, nobody moves or sets picks. I call for stuff, they don’t execute. Lazy pass after lazy pass, turnover after turnover. They’re wonderful children. Lovely, friendly, agreeable little folks who, truly, bring enjoyment to my life. But, with one or two exceptions, we’re not athletic or instinctive. We don’t battle, dive, hunt.

Part of the problem is talent: We have very little.

Another part of the problem is coaching: I’m not particularly good at it.

I’m just not. It’s surprising, because I was a pretty solid Little League manager, and I figured hoops (my first love) would be easier. But, in fact, it’s a beast. First, it’s nearly impossible to draw up plays for kids who don’t understand the game’s basics. Second, I struggle explaining the Xs and Os. I grasp them, but don’t express them in proper terms for a young child. Third, you should be positive all the time, and I’m not. I turn exasperated, especially when the other squad gets eight, nine, 10 rebounds in a row. I don’t yell, but I grimace. And that sucks, because—again—these aren’t experienced hoopsters. They don’t need to see my facial expressions.

Anyhow, we have two more games, and our odds of winning are not good. Save for a 10-point defeat, our margins have always exceeded 20 points.

Fortunately, after the last game we’ll have a pizza party.

That’s what it should be about.

3 thoughts on “On coaching a very bad basketball team”

  1. How stupid can you be? No fundamentals? Just go out and play? My Dad taught (open to all) Park District basketball to 7, 8, and 9 year olds from the 60s to the 90s. The 7 and 8 year old learned dribbling, passing, and shooting free throws. The 8 year olds learned rebounding and shooting and played short up and down 3 on 3s. 9 year old played short games picked by the coaches to be balanced in talent. Your kids will have learned nothing but bad habits and then not like playing the game. If you practice what do you teach and how much time can you spend?

    1. I’m in pretty much the same place myself halfway through this season. I coach a rec league for 12 year olds that does not allow any practices once the season starts and the few practices before the season were just an hour each to get the kids acclimated, and many did not show up consistently for this or that excuse from the parents. Yet, because it’s a rec league, equal (almost) playing time is guaranteed. So, without asking me how stupid I am, perhaps you can offer a more constructive response for a coach that is 0-12 because the team they gave him is shorter and less talented than all the other ones? I know there’s not much I can do — and like this poster wrote, I shouldn’t take it personally but I do. I’m the one standing there on the sideline. I just want to quit and tell the league to do a better job splitting up the teams. But naturally I won’t — I guess grin and bear it. The bright side is that there’s really no pressure — if we had a top team and lost in the playoffs I would be the one they’d blame. So there’s that.

      1. Start a League that JUST TEACHES FUNDAMENTALS, instead of joining 8 year olds who already know and have played for three years. Help develop some hand/eye coordination.

Leave a Reply