Last Updated 16 | 01 | 2013 at 12:32

Sport

Life Lessons through Sport

Article By:
Luke Azzopardi

I picked up a basketball for the first time at age 11 and I’ve never put it down since then. The game grew on me and lit a burning passion to learn everything there is to know and to be the best player I can be.

Now, a new challenge has arrived, the challenge of coaching the game I love to others. I started coaching mini basketball to players under the age of 12, showing them basketball fundamentals and hopefully helping them discover a love for the game, just as I had.

I like to believe I taught them the game as best I could, however what definitely happened was that I started learning more about myself than I previously anticipated. I realized that teaching, despite its challenges can be one of the more rewarding experiences in life, even if it is teaching a sport that the kids might get bored of at any moment.

Fast forward a couple of years to last October, I had been given the responsibility of coaching both u16 and u19 teams, teams I was a part of just a few years previously at Loyola Basketball Club. With the help of my own coach, I embraced the challenge of coaching players of a much higher level than I was used to.

My goal for this team was not to magically transform them into a championship team overnight, rather, it was to impart every ounce of knowledge I have about the game to them. Luckily, the players embraced me and my developing coaching methods, making it easier for me to do my job.

The biggest challenge by far however came whilst coaching the team during the difficult league games. I understood that different people responded differently to certain kinds of coaching. Some need to be spoken to one on one to be motivated, others relied on the spirit of the team and others needed to be forcefully told to break through their negativity and believe in themselves.

Being a relatively inexperienced group, wins were hard to come by, even though I stressed to them that it was not about winning, at the time it was hard not to share in their disappointment after the countless close games that we lost. This is where I discovered the value of being able to motivate and the importance of keeping a positive attitude in the most negative situations. Having a solid support system when it comes to the players’ parents, who religiously come to every game, is also imperative to the team’s success.

Through the few short months I have been coaching at this level, I have learned more about basketball and life than I would have ever imagined. Such lessons cannot be studied from a textbook, they are learned through experience, and even though it hasn't been a walk in the park, it is definitely an experience I shall maintain and cherish for the rest of my life.

Therefore, I pledge to any experienced player of any sport with an affinity for teaching and plenty of patience, to pick up a whistle and try their hand at teaching their game. You’ll find out more about yourself than you could possibly imagine.

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