Tonight was day one of basketball camp. It was a small gathering of kids. Only eleven out of the seventeen who signed up appeared. For two hours we practiced layups, jump shots, defense, passing and three-on-three. At one point I took the highest skill child aside and tried to counsel him regarding his jump shot. I suggested that he was missing his shots because he was fading away, doing turn around jumpers and generally not taking good shots. He disagreed. Later I approached him again. This time I told him about a former college colleague who was a Second Team All American, averaging over 28 points per game. I said, “He had one main weakness. He faded away on his shots.” I looked at the boy meaningfully. “He did the same thing you are doing, and it hurt his shooting percentage. You have strong shooting skills but you need to square up to the basket, plant your feet, using your legs to jump and shoot the shot.” He said, “Okay.” Immediately he drained three shots in a row. All of them were picture perfect form with no fade aways or fancy showmanship. I said, “Now THAT’S what I’m talking about!” Then I gave him a high five. He smiled (barely) for the first time that night. Hmm. Maybe he realizes I am not such a relic after all.
Coaching involves teaching skills, encouraging application and then praising the resultant success of the protege. I look forward to continued improvement in this child and all the others as well tomorrow.