Lessons learned from shooting hoops, part 1

Basketball is popular in our household, both to watch and play. Both children were on teams this winter and became acutely aware of how important free throws are to winning games.

We’ve been reinforcing the only way to get better at anything is to practice consistently, and small doses add up over time and have a huge impact. And practicing in the off-season is paramount.

Which is why they each make at least 20 free throws daily.

Yesterday, after shooting his daily 20, Zander came inside and was beside himself. He’d only made nine of the twenty shots and that wasn’t good enough for him.

So after cooling down for a bit, we went back outside – this time together – and he started shooting again.

He missed a few, made a few and missed some more and he became visibly upset.

He started mumbling to himself, telling himself he was terrible, that he’d never get better, and on and on. It was heartbreaking.

Then it hit me. He didn’t have his own back.

So I did the mom kneel down (you know, for when you really want them to hear you) and…

Me: What would your best buddy say to you right now if you were playing at school and you missed these shots?

Z: I dunno.

Me: C’mon, you know. 

Z: He’d tell me it was OK and no biggie.

Me: And?

Z: And what?

Me: And do you think you could do that for yourself? Do you think you could be your own BFF and have your own back? Seems that would make more sense than telling yourself you’re terrible.

Z: Yeah, well, maybe.

Me: Let’s give it a whirl.

He shot two more rounds of twenty, steadily improving each time, even scoring a personal best.

We talked about how much he’d improved with each set of 20 and the importance of being your own BFF and how positive self-talk is a tool always available in any situation – sports, school and even when you’re scared or nervous.

And then he asked if I thought MJ (Michael Jordan, obvi) talks to himself like that.

Without missing a beat I responded, Obviously, he and I aren’t close friends but if I had to guess, I’d say absolutely 100% for sure he talks to himself like that. You don’t get to be the best player in the history of the game by telling yourself you’re terrible. You’ve GOT to be your own BFF. You have to have your own back.

And that goes for you, too, my friends. 

You’ve got to be your own BFF.

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