I want to thank you for joining us this summer for our 3-on-3 and 4-on-4 leagues. I certainly hope you had a positive experience. Most of all, I hope your young player was able to connect with the fun and spontaneity of the game in a meaningful way. I love the game of basketball and believe the summertime is a great time to develop that love for the game through play.
I have been in the habit of writing you each week with a “thought.” Those thoughts often turned into 2 or 3 thoughts, but I’d like to leave you with one more. I’ll put it like this.
We are all aware that (barring a physical struggle) our children are physically growing. We are also aware that the people who see them the least will notice this growth the most. I’m sure you understand what I mean. We may run into an old neighbor or head to a yearly family reunion. One of the first words out of their mouths when others see our children is, “Wow, you have really grown!”
I often respond by saying, “Wow. You are right. I just didn’t notice it.” Because I didn’t. I saw them every day. Sure, they were growing. I knew they were growing, but it was so slow that I didn’t realize they grew 3 inches in the last year. Not so for the person who hasn’t seen them during that year.
And so it is with athletic development. It’s a slow process that, particularly when we watch our children consistently, we fail to see. In a sense, we see so much that we can’t see the growth!
We live in a day and age that is borderline consumed with “measurables.” We love stats and analytics and batting averages and fantasy football points. And that’s all well and good. These things have their place. But when it comes to developing young athletes, there is so much that we cannot see, so much that we cannot measure.
One of my big beliefs is that when it comes to really playing the game (and I don’t mean drills, I mean, really playing the game!), it is impossible to consistently measure improvement. You get hints at real improvement; short little insights in the midst of a game that kids are starting to get it. But growing in confidence and understanding and joy and feel for the game? What’s a stat to measure these things?
A generation ago, my parents had minimal opportunity and exposure to most of what I did to improve. That may sound ridiculous, but it is 100% true. My father was my coach during much of my youth and he still didn’t see most of what I did to improve. I walked up to the park or he dropped me off at the gym and I went and just played. Or worked on my game. Or tinkered and goofed around. He didn’t see most of it!
Today is so much different. We see so much more. Is this all bad? By no means. But it is dangerous. Or at least it can be very dangerous, because we will constantly be tempted to measure improvement. We can easily become like parents who are measuring their child’s height every single day. No much has happened in 24 hours. Wait a few months to measure and, well, now you see some progress.
Who sees more progress in your child? You who watch them all the time or the person who watches them once a year?
It’s a bit of a trick question, but the answer is you! It’s us! We just don’t realize it. Others see the difference between then and now. We don’t see much of difference, but the magic is still happening in the midst of the chaos and the mistakes. And the best thing we can often do for our children is to sit back and enjoy it. Even more, to keep assuring them that they are improving and that the most important thing to that improvement is to max out on the fun.
All in all, I think we did so this summer and I thank you. More so, whether they realize it or not, your kids can thank you!
Thankful for the game,