Game day felt somewhat different today, we were matched up against the second team in a National League fixture, only in basketball would this be an acceptable picture. I arrived early, chatted to whomever would listen to me and generally relaxed myself with a view to almost removing myself from the task at hand. I did however quickly speak to the captain to ask that we conduct ourselves in an appropriate manner, that we demonstrate professionalism and respect for our fellow club members.
The ball went up and from that moment on it was an ever decreasing spiral downwards, filled with a mix of emotions. There were lots of things going on around me, in front of me and within the game but with with no real high or low moment, no spike or obvious context to draw from, not for me anyway, it was all a bit of blur. We did a number of things well, but also managed to turn the ball over more than necessary, and often unopposed and without cause or reason other than as a result of a bad decision. We didn’t seem able to ‘tidy our play up’ (a phrase I use to encourage us to be better). I wasn’t sure whether we were being ‘too nice’ or that we just didn’t recognise what it was we were doing. Some of us looked tired, was it that perhaps? We looked so mentally and physically fatigued but I wasn’t sure why. It is currently a very difficult year for this age group and I was mindful of this and all that they had to contend with (mock exams, late teenage identity, growing social lives etc.). Or perhaps it was more about the nature of the young people I was working with? They were after all really good kids, respectful, polite, well-grounded etc., may be I was asking more than they had to give?
We moved through the quarters without any real energy, it was almost as though we expected to win, a position I didn’t like as it felt too much like complacency, almost as though we had gone away from what we needed to do because we had assured ourselves that we would win. A great deal of literature provides a picture of coaching that as great influence on the athletes within the setting, not just performance orientated, but more psychosocial. Important traits like self-efficacy, confidence, autonomy, all of the things that I wished to impact upon within my charges. Unfortunately, I wasn’t reaching some of them and I wasn’t sure why.
The drive home was a mixed bag of emotions, I wanted to be happy for the players, after all, we had won by 30+ points. However, we hadn’t been at our best, our passing was all over the place, we missed lay up after lay up and failed to play together with any degree of consistency. If we had played against a team higher up the table in the same fashion it would have been a completely different result, not one that we would have been able to justify or indeed live with!!