A highlight of coaching kids is the raw emotion often on display.
Every kid is different, and each player reacts in different ways to certain situations. Emotions run high because there is passion.
I’m currently coaching my son’s soccer and basketball teams. The sports are incredibly different. To a player, basketball brings more emotions for a variety of reasons. Basketball features more scoring on a smaller field of play, less players on the field, shorter time of play and is much more contingent upon the referees’ calls.
At the under-12 age, soccer simply doesn’t bring out the same raw reactions that basketball does in my experience.
Since basketball season is wrapping up this week, it’s fresh on my mind. Of the seven players on my team, I think only one didn’t cry at some point during the season. Some of the tears were due to injury, but most a result of a foul call not going their way, a viscous block from an opponent, an errant air ball that embarrassed them, a dribble off the foot or missing an easy shot.
The thing about basketball is there’s no hiding on the court. The players are visible to spectators and what they say can be heard. Since my son talks too much and has difficulty controlling himself, Beckett is often heard loud and clear. He received at least two warnings this season from referees for complaining too theatrically about foul calls. At one point, a referee came over and asked if No. 1 was my kid. He said I gave him a warning. I replied, “go ahead and give him a technical if you need to please.” He laughed but I was serious.
My kid is certainly not alone when it comes to controlling his emotions on the basketball court. It’s an excitable game and feelings flow. I can’t recall one game this season when a kid did not have a poor reaction to something. One kid slammed a ball and then violently threw it toward a ref. One player cried uncontrollably on the sideline after a foul was called. Another screamed at his father who was coaching and was ordered off the court mid-play. Another player was flattened from behind when he suddenly stopped mid-run on the court to say hello to a classmate.
All these are learning experiences, most of which are not exactly fun memories to live through at the time. I know I learned a lot about patience for sure.
Watching my kids around their little niece is something special. However, when they are done, they are done.
Pam has a son from a previous marriage. He’s married with a family in New York. Their daughter, who made us grandparents (young ones if I do admit), celebrated her first birthday last weekend with a grand party.
Beckett, 11, was faced with a decision the week before the five-hour road trip. He had a school dance on Friday night. He could attend the dance, and we would leave early Saturday morning to arrive in time for the party. Or he could skip the dance, and we could leave school early Friday to spend time with Zoe the night before her party.
At first, he wanted to go to the dance because he didn’t want to miss the fun with friends. We were fine with that and planned to leave bright and early the next morning. One night he announced he was okay missing the dance and would rather spend some quality time with Zoe before the party. It was a mature decision. I was honestly surprised. His reasoning for not wanting to miss the middle school dance was understandable and we supported the decision. We gave him a couple days to think it over. He wanted to skip the dance.
Around 10 p.m. the night of the dance, after spending several hours with Zoe, he heard from some of his friends about how fun the dance was that night. He was a little regretful of his decision when he went to bed that night. Come the next day when a crowd of family had come to enjoy the festivities he said he realized then he had made the right call because so many people were fussing over his niece.
It was fun to watch Beckett with Zoe. After about an hour the first night of being with her, he remarked how surprised he was I had not taken any pictures yet. Not one to enjoy having his picture taken, he was willing to make an exception for Zoe. That was all the cue needed to get busy. I appreciated the reminder.
For his part, Carson is smitten in his own way over his little niece. He seems reluctant to touch her too much. I like to think it’s because he doesn’t want to be too rough. However, whenever his big brother would hold Zoe, you can bet Carson was sidling next to him waiting for his turn. He doesn’t seem to trust himself too much with her. He only wants to hold her for a few seconds and he’s good.
Both boys seem to have a commonality on that front. When they are excited to be with Zoe, they are all in. When they are done, especially when it comes to diaper changes or feeding or any sort of whininess, they are moving on. I can understand that.