Basketball and the Night Watch.
We were getting ready to play in our first big game of the season, sitting nervously in the visitor's locker room and trying our best to fully focus on the job before us. The night before, our hotel had developed a water leak in the ceiling above our rooms. The sound of falling water woke up both Coach and I about 4:30 AM, and the water kept pouring out for at least two hours. I put my earbuds in and finally managed to get back to sleep about 6:30. Coach could not sleep and stayed up and watched some basketball coaching videos.
He watched a video that talked about the difference between how fathers and mothers act when their children are being challenged. During the pre-game chalk talk, he attached what he had learned from the video to a story of how his own mother would always put her children's needs ahead of her own. Surprising? Hardly. That is what mother's so often do best, sacrifice for the good of the family.
It was, however, very appropriate for the moment, and I noticed how the player's focus momentarily shifted from paying attention to his words to pulling up memories of their own mothers. That's what makes such stories like that so powerful as teaching tools. When a story is being told the brains of the speaker and the listeners light up in the same area; in other words, they sync together.
The point he made was that the individual player in determining how to develop the right mindset for the game should think in terms of how a mother would think about her children, and learn to make sacrifices for the good of her teammates by putting the needs of others ahead of her own.
Thinking about it later, I felt that he had inadvertently stumbled across something very profound, not only explaining the need for team member to create a service mentality in order to insure the success of the family (team) but maybe in revealing a way that coaches who coach female sports can better reach their players.
Team sports are usually highly competitive, and, until fairly recently, the word competitive was firmly embedded in the list of character traits regarded as being masculine in nature. In fact, as a masculine trait, it biologically appears millions of years before human beings even appeared upon the scene.
The dominant trait of females, on the other hand, was usually felt to be "nurturing". The post-Title Nine world that we inhabit, has not only astronomically increased the numbers of female competing in what were once considered masculine endeavors, it has also greatly increased the numbers of young girls being trained in the ways of masculinity. The question is, has this training in anyway, shape, or form come with a commensurate loss in the nurturing trait?
I think, it is, at least, something that needs to be asked because it leads to a plethora of other questions that would also need to be both formulated and answered. For example, many female coaches feel that girls should only be coached by other females. Is this a valid point? Men coaches have been highly successful in teaching these once "men only" virtues to females.
Or, how about the question, do male players need a female voice to explain their feminine side to them? We now know that such a thing exists, so are we damaging their development in ignoring it? I would postulate that it would not hurt male players to learn about the idea of the "sacrifice of mothers" and how developing the idea of a servant mentality could best serve the needs of their teams.
In addition, it just might be something to help all coaches better address the needs of their players regardless of gender, or, at least, a better understanding of those needs. Say, for instance, instead of always pushing the idea of competing hard and being tough, a coach pays equal attention to the idea of self-sacrifice in creating true team values.
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