Saturday, July 10, 2010

Basketball Lessons

In my backyard, my boys and I have an ongoing basketball game where, much to my surprise, basketball has replaced baseball as our game of choice.

Baseball teaches many things, among them the virtues of practice and repetition, cooperation between teammates, eye hand coordination, and is a great way for middle age men to commune with their sons as a game of catch does not usually tax forty something year old bodies. Over the years I have taken a particular pleasure in watching my boys develop their baseball skills, going from barely able to catch the ball when they were four to being able to deftly handle the most difficult of plays.

That there happens to be a basketball hoop in my backyard is a feature of my new home my boys find most appealing. They spend hours shooting baskets and more often than not, I am right out there with them. Which brings me to our ongoing game.

Actually there are two ongoing where its ten year old Aidan and me against thirteen year old Oliver...and another of me against Oliver. Whereas I am slightly taller and a bit heavier than Oliver, he is in better shape, has greater endurance, and is faster than I. On the other hand...Aidan is quicker than both of us, has better eye hand coordination, however he is a foot shorter than Oliver and only half as heavy. I can safely say that both boys are better than I am at basketball.

During these games I encourage the boys to develop strategies and tactics that allow them to maximize their strengths and advantages while exploiting their opponent's weaknesses. Aidan is particularly adept at this as over the years he has found ways to compete athletically and intellectually with his much larger older brother. For an example, Aidan and I encourage Oliver to expend as much energy as possible by allowing him to run and dribble as much as he wants while the two of us lie in wait. I am waiting for Oliver to realize that it makes far less sense for him to dribble about simply because he can than for him to devise a way to break down our defense and take quality shots each time he has the ball.

Despite what we see on ESPN, basketball is a game of quickness and angles, of strategy and tactics. Aidan and I have a strategy of wearing out Oliver and we employ tactics towards that end...we run him ragged. My strategy against Oliver is to not get worn out and to play games that end quickly...and I play accordingly. has become this summer's teaching tool where I am trying to teach my boys to assess situations, maximize their advantages, minimize their weaknesses, and above all else, think and plan before acting. Hopefully they will also learn when and how to land the well placed elbow as well.

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