Having managed to get over the weight of disappointment in myself and regain my enthusiasm for all that occurs between the lines, I began to plan our evenings practice. Having failed to carve out any time earlier in the day, my planning was limited to dictation during my drive from one higher education campus to another. Divided by a network of ‘A’ roads and motorways spanning 90 miles I was afforded two hours of undisturbed work space. In fact, I had I would argue that I had become pretty adept at working in the car, my recent introduction to Podcast, alongside an IPad App that read out PDF documents and my multiple recording devices made me pretty work agile in the confined space of my saloon.
I arrived at practice ready to go, switched on and all the other platitudes you could muster within a sport setting. The second team coach approached me, he wanted to share our time and space and move the two squads through a series of transition based sets (my new name for ‘drills’ as it removes the condition of isolated, linear learning states). I was in total agreement, I had scheduled in some time to look at how we progressed the ball up the court and how we defended against it coming back. The rest of my plan was binned, the pressing of a button and my previous two hours work was disposed off. I didn’t mind though, this would allow them to play a little and remove some of the pressure of our position, reinforcing the concept of fun and enjoyment.
I am not sure how much teaching took place during the 90 minutes, we weren’t anywhere near where we needed to be. We had spent the year talking about 3 x 8 and our ability to progress the ball to meaningful positions on the floor with a view to creating an advantage. However, throughout the first two sets we persisted in over dribbling the basketball and reducing our chances of creating any advantage to almost zero. I spent some time walking and talking, posing questions to individuals and listening to their take on what it was we were doing. I find it interesting listening to the views of players, it is almost like a father talking to his children, the void between their perceptive landscape far too grand to cross within any short space of time. I wondered, was this the learning problem? Was it that this incongruence was a direct result of poor teaching? It was going to be a question that I poked at, explored and examined in much greater detail as it frustrated me no end.
We finished the session on a reasonable high, we had managed to execute, in places, but more importantly, the chatter appear to identify where we had fallen short. This was more important to me, this was a show of strength, suddenly we had demonstrated that we knew where it was that we needed to improve, and where it was that we needed to be as a group. I gave everyone a high five, laughed and cracked a few jokes as we excited the court and threw myself into the five minute walk back to my mobile office and to my transport home. The drive home was relatively short, my reflection was a smoke filled blur of teaching, coaching and what next? I exited my car, entered the house and within minutes laid my head down. As I closed my eyes I reminisced about wanting to be a professional coach, about the day’s, weeks and years I dreamed of becoming a full time basketball coach!!