Well, when I woke this morning ,and having spent a couple of hours in my home office prior to making the short journey to our home venue, I wasn’t expecting to be attacked and verbally abused! Interesting job this coaching game!
I arrived at our venue wanting to get into the players early, I wanted to get them focused and test our ability to execute. Winning or losing wasn’t really something we were concerned with, our last outing against today’s team finished in a 50 point victory. I wanted us to really concentrate on who we wanted to be, our individual roles and our ability to make smart decisions based on what we were presented with in each moment of the game. We had a great warm up, players were active, lose and having fun. In fact, I joined in a little, challenging their shots, restricting their movement and having a little fun whilst doing so. There was a light and confident mood surrounding us, we came together, had a great shout and stepped on to the floor ready to play.
We got off to an awful start, a missed shot, poor transition and a foul on the shot put us down 3 – 0 in just 20 seconds! I wasn’t happy and I let the bench know it, I could feel a real sense of frustration. How does such a light mood, active and positive warm up and some clear direction translate to 3 – 0 deficit? I sat down and attempted to compose myself, we were playing in the ‘mud’, our movement was slow and our decision making poor. I didn’t want to get after them, I was determined to be positive, supportive and helpful. As the game went on we got better, our movement was more direct, we shared the ball and we began to play defence.
Late into the fourth quarter we were up by a considerable amount, due for the most part to our defensive pressure and our ability to turn the opposition over. During one particular offensive trip down the floor one of my players was forced to the ground in a unnecessary move that went unchallenged. I called a time out and went over to the referee to ask him to be more vigilant. I was pretty calm and merely wanted to make a point. As I returned to the bench the opposing coach was gesturing angrily and hurling abuse in my direction – “get that idiot of the floor” -I was somewhat taken back, but still calm. I turned and asked him who he was talking to, his response was far more than I had anticipated getting – “you F*!?ing idiot!” As I turned to the referee to ask him what it was he was going to do the coach said something else, I didn’t hear it and choose not to react. Instead, I continued to the bench and was greeted by my players who wrapped their arms around me and told me not to worry. In that moment I realised my role, the responsibility to a group of young people was far greater than the game. We laughed, shared a joke and I returned to the task at hand.
On the drive home I thought about what my response would have been towards the coach twenty years ago! It certainly would have been a very different me, a different interaction and a different result! However, I liked today’s response, calculated, calm and composed. My secondary school headmaster would have never believed it of me. In fact, I am pretty confident that he would have been waiting in his office, cain in hand ready to serve me my weekly dose of punishment! How my world as changed!