“When a team comes out for the second half, and completely transforms the score in its favor, that’s a sign of good coaching.”
My mom is the primary sports fan in our family, and her comment about coaching makes a lot of sense. A team goes out and plays its best, but it’s the coaches’ job to watch for weak spots to fix for their own players, and for weak spots to exploit for the opposing team.
How well can the team receive the instruction at the half? How much had the coach observed, and how much can the coach impart?
I am not a good sports fan. I’m far too fickle, for one thing, and watching a game is way too high stress for me. Sometimes even keeping tabs on the score is too high-stress. (Even when I don’t care about the outcome of the game! Crazy, but true!)
But I live outside Charlottesville, so yesterday the whole city was thrilled to witness the University of Virginia (UVA) basketball team accomplish a magnificent turnaround.
In 2018, UVA suffered the most humiliating loss in the history of March Madness. The top team plays the bottom team in the first game, and for 135 games over the last 34 years, the number 1 team always (always) won.
Until last year when the University of Maryland-Baltimore County crushed UVA.
Coach Tony Bennett said, “It stings. But I tried to tell the guys that this is life. It can’t define you.”
Although the team went down in defeat, the coach was there to offer greater life perspective. Some days are not wins. That’s okay. Life is bigger than a single game.
This year, UVA again came into the tournament as a number 1 seed. And on occasion, they would be behind at the half.
But they would come back in the second half, having made the necessary changes. And though the last three games were over-the-top, heart-pounding, crazy close (overtime, an amazing trio of free-throws with .6 seconds to go, and overtime again), UVA ended as the National Champions.
Good coaching makes the difference.
I’ve been thinking about coaching in context of teaching my sons to read. I feel like my son and I are the players, working together. And the Happy Cheetah Reading System is the coach. The coach comes up with the game plan, figures out the pitfalls, helps the players keep moving forward, and encourages the players to always improve.
It’s such a relief that I didn’t have to get a doctorate to figure out what the research says about reading theory. I didn’t have to write stories to gradually pull my son along. I didn’t have to come up with the strategy.
I simply need to execute what has been prepared for me.
And every day then becomes a win.