The following pieces address character issues concerning basketball, but more specifically how coaches and players should view their conduct and values.

One Possession
The Coach
10 Commandments for Parents of Athletic Children
The Indispensable Man

One Possession

contributed by Coach Paul McNeal, Bunkie, LA

It was only one possession,
Why must my coach scream,
My poor defense permitted the basket,
But what can one hoop mean?

As the pass comes my direction,
And I fumble it into the stands,
The coach's voice rings loud and clear,
"Catch with your eyes and hands!"

C'mon coach, its a single possession,
Our team will be okay,
It's just the first two minutes,
My gosh, we got all day.

At the 2nd quarter mark I remember,
That the center is strong and stout,
A putback for two, quite simply due,
To my failure to turn and block out.

But it was only one possession,
I didn't commit a crime,
My team is ahead and I'm playing well,
And there's still plenty of time!

As the halftime buzzer is sounding,
And I watch the ball bank in,
I know I will hear from my loving coach,
Of my questionable effort to defend.

But it was only one possession,
Coach - don't have a heart attack!
We're down by one, but were having fun,
I know we'll get the lead back!

The second half mirrors the first,
But it's early, it's not a big deal
That my failure to use a pass fake
Results in an unlikely steal.

But quickly I sink a jumper,
I'm greeted by high fives and slaps,
but the next possession I give up a layup,
while suffering mental lapse.

But its only one possession,
C'mon coach, chill out.
It's crazy to see you disgusted,
As you slap the assistant and shout.

"Victory favors the team making the fewest mistakes. Single possessions are the key.
So treat them like gold and do as you are told. And play with intensity."

I step to the line for one and one,
But I'm having a concentration lapse.
The ball soars through the air - Good Lord, it's a brick!
I'm afraid the support will collapse.

In post game I sit at my locker,
Pondering what more I could do.
I realize the value of each possession,
what a shame that we lost by two.


The Coach

contributed by Coach Terry Miller,

The following is something I found a while back in a book called "THE COACH" by Ralph J. Sabock. It is a letter that was written to the coach by a parent. Perhaps to understand a situation we need to be put in the situation. I have always reflected on this document that some may consider irrelevant but it just may put some things in perspective when it comes to parents, coaches and players. It took a while to input and I think I cleaned up most of the spelling mistakes.

Dear Coach,

We hardly know each other, and yet very shortly we will have quite a lot in common, namely, my son Mike. Now that your season is about to begin, we are "loaning" you one of the greatest possessions the Good >Lord has seen fit to give us- our son, and make no mistake about it, coach, during these next few months he is yours!

To his mother and me he is still a little boy in many respects, but of course we wouldn't dare let him know we felt that way since he thinks he's quite grown up at age 15. To most coaches, he and his buddies are looked upon as young men because they have the backbone to come out for the team and to stick with it. Little boys couldn't do this, only "men" can take it, according to the coaches. But I guess most parents are hesitant to want to see their sons in this light because these youngsters seem to grow up so quickly anyway.

You know, Mike has been a hero worshipper ever since he was little more than a baby and I'm happy to say that at one small point in his life he even included me, but now, you are number one! In his eyes, you are the man.   He believes in you. He believes in what you do. He believes in what you stand for and what you say. He doesn't miss a thing where you are concerned, and most importantly he believes in what you are! This, my friend, makes you a very special person fulfilling a very special role, with very special responsibilities, which far outweigh the limited message any scoreboard might tell. Some of us have only one son to guide and enjoy, but you, coach, will literally have hundreds of "sons" to guide and enjoy over the years. In this respect, especially, you are a very lucky man indeed.

Now, I'm not naive enough to believe that our son and his teammates won't keep you awake nights, make mistakes, frustrate you, lose some, win some, and cause you other kinds of problems, but in the final analysis it might be that this is because they are boys, not men. This might come as a surprise to you, but in some ways these things hurt the boys more than it hurts you since they are so anxious to please you. It might not show, but deep down they are disappointed when these things happen because they feel that they have let you down.

Ever since I can remember, this boy of ours has dreamed of the day when he would have his chance to "make the team." At the moment this is his one burning desire. He wants to be an athlete and be part of the team, and at this time and in this place he is ready to do what you tell him in order to accomplish this goal. As you might expect, like every boy, he dreams of glory and of becoming a superstar who always manages to come through when the team is on the brink of disaster! I guess this isn't too bad, for the moment, at least, since the hard facts of life bring us face to face with reality all too soon anyway.

Please do not misunderstand me, coach. I am not suggesting that he be treated any differently than anyone else because I feel that basically our boy is just like all the boys on the team. I don't know if he will ever be good enough to "make the first team," or weather he has any real athletic ability or not, but to us this is not our primary concern.

I believe that I speak for most parents when I say that we are more concerned about what happens to our youngsters through this experience and because you are his teacher. We hope that in spite of your busy schedule you will be able to see these boys as something other than X's and O's on a play sheet, or "tools" to be used in furthering your ambitions for that really "big job". We hope, too, that our boy will not only learn the fundamentals of the game from you but also a respect for authority, the necessity of following rules and the penalty for violating them.

He needs to learn that discipline is important to an individual and to a group in order to prevent chaos. He needs to develop an appreciation for hard work and the fact that this is still a good guideline for success in any endeavor. We think he should learn that loyalty is not a bad word and that being loyal to his team, his coach, his school, his family, his church, and his country is good and necessary. Through athletics he should develop an understanding of the importance of taking care of his body and not abusing it by using tobacco, alcohol, or drugs. His experiences with you in athletics should also teach him to accept his fellow man for what he is and what he can do rather than the color of his skin or his nationality.

No one enjoys losing, but youngsters need to get a taste of it in order for them to learn that the important thing is the necessity of "getting off the floor" and trying again. These are the little things that begin to make young men and good citizens without sacrificing any mechanical aspects of the game.

I realize that every community has its corps of "super critics" who only have eyes for the scoreboard. But I am suggesting to you, coach, that if you teach "boys" instead of just a "sport" the boys and the parents will rarely, if ever, be numbered among the leather-lunged experts in row X, and your personal scoreboard will record so many young men out of so many boys.

Good luck to you and the team.


A Father

10 Commandments for Parents of Athletic Children

contributed by Coach Brian Reynolds

This document was posted by Coach Brian on the basketball coaches discussion board, 2/11/00.

  1. Make sure your children know that win or lose, scared or heroic, you love them, appreciate their efforts, and are not disappointed in them. This will allow them to do their best without fear of failure.  Be the person  in  their lives they can look to for constant, positive encouragement.
  2. Try your best to be completely honest about your child's athletic capability, competitive attitude, sportsmanship and actual skill level.
  3. Be helpful but don't coach them on the way to the field, rink, pool, gym or track or on the way back, at breakfast, and so on.  It is tough not  to, but it is a lot tougher for children to be inundated with advice, pep talks, and often critical instruction.
  4. Teach them to enjoy the thrill of competition, to be "out there trying",  to be working to improve their skills and attitudes.  Help them develop  the feel for competing, for trying hard, for having fun.
  5. Try not to re-live your athletic life through your children in a way that creates pressure.  You fumbled too, you lost as well as won.  You were frightened, you backed off at times, you were not always heroic. Don't pressure them because of your lost pride.
  6. Don't compete with the coach.  If the coach becomes an authority figure, it will run from enchantment to disenchantment, etc.  with your athlete.
  7. Don't compare the skill, courage, or attitudes of your children with other members of the team, at least within their hearing distance.
  8. Get to know the coach so that you can be assured that his/her philosophy, attitudes, ethics, and knowledge are such that you are
    happy to have your children under his/her leadership.
  9. Always remember children tend to exaggerate, both when praised and criticized.  Temper your reaction and investigate before over-reacting.
  10. Make a point of understanding courage, and the fact that it is relative.  Some of us can climb mountains, and are afraid to fight. Some of us will fight, but turn to jelly if a bee approaches.  Everyone is frightened in certain areas.  Explain that courage is not the absence of fear, but a means of doing something in spite of fear or discomfort. The job of the parent of an athletic child is a tough one, and it takes a  lot of effort to do it well.  It is worth all the effort when you hear your youngster say, "My parents really helped.  I was lucky to have the parents I have, in this respect."

The Indispensable Man

Sometime when you're feeling important,
Sometime when your ego's in bloom,
Sometime when you take it for granted,
You're the best qualified in the room.

Sometime when you feel that your going
Would leave an unfillable hole,
Just follow this simple instruction
And see how it humbles your soul.

Take a bucket and fill it with water;
Put your hand in it up to the wrist.
Pull it out, and the hole that's remaining
Is the measure of how you'll be missed.

You may splash all you please when you enter;
You can stir up the water galore;
But stop, and you'll find in a minute,
That it looks quite the same as before.

The moral in this quaint example
Is to do just the best that you can.
Be proud of yourself, but remember,
There is no indispensable man!

-Ogden Nash