I think one of the most difficult tasks for coaches is communicating to players when and where they should feel comfortable to shoot the ball. “Kids” who love to play basketball, and play a lot, don’t seem to grasp the “that’s not your shot” message. However difficult the message, it is essential that players know the coach’s expectation for them. Why? At times players don’t see their abilities the same as the coaching staff. There are times when a player may think he is better than he really is, times when a player doesn’t realize how good he is, or though skilled enough, doesn’t understand the game and thus, takes shots at inopportune times. The coach cannot leave these discussions to chance.
Such communication varies from player to player depending upon their skill set and can be categorized as follows: “The Green Light”, “The Green Light*”, “The Red Light”, and “Come on, Do It For Your Momma”.
“The Green Light”- There are at least two types of green light players, those who already think they are good from anywhere on the court and those the coach thinks are. I believe both are necessary to win! In the mind of a true “green light” player, the light rarely turns yellow and never turns red.
“The Green Light * ” – You can’t win without these players either. These players are specific “spot” shooters or scorers. “If you get this shot, it’s yours, knock it down”.
“The Red Light” – Sometimes these are your defensive or rebounding specialists, perhaps great athletes who play to be a part of the team but do not possess strong basketball skills. In such cases the coach doesn’t actually say, “you have the red light” but instead has a conversation such as, “you are our defensive specialist, our shut down guy, let the other guys take care of the scoring. If you want to shoot it, rebound it and get the put-back or steal it and get the lay-up. (think Dennis Rodman-Bulls, Birdman-Heat, Michael Cooper-Lakers)
“Do it for your Momma” –There is a story with this one. These are guys who do possess basketball skills but hold back for what might be an array of reasons. These are guys you need to perform when it’s time to perform. In the few instances I’ve coached players who were hesitant to display their skills, I would simply encourage, “Come on ___ you have to shoot the ball. Do it for your mama, she didn’t come to the game to watch you sit on the bench or pass it around.” If there is one thing I have learned from coaching basketball, moms want to see their kid shoot…and shoot it often.
I had this list of athletes I coached over the years for each of the categories above but decided it would be wiser to omit that…some of you still think you were a “green lighter”. If you read and follow this blog here or via Facebook it would be great to hear from which category you would place you or your teammates. If you were a cheerleader or fan, feel free to weigh-in.
One of the most prominent men in the Bible is Moses. He has a unique and interesting beginning and it never changes, his life is one fascinating story after another. In the 4th chapter of Exodus there is a similar yet much greater interaction occurring between God and Moses. In this interaction, Moses learns he has been chosen by God to lead the people out of exile in Egypt. Moses demonstrates a lack of confidence or willingness to be His “chosen”. Early in the chapter God is demonstrating Mo’s talents to him, talent that up until then, didn’t know he had. Moses is reluctant in agreement to stretch himself, to draw on and use these God-given abilities. He says, “Pardon your servant Lord, but I have never been eloquent, neither in the past nor since you have spoken to your servant. I am slow of speech and tongue.”
The Lord said to him, “Who gave human beings their mouths…Is it not I, the Lord? Now Go! I will help you speak and teach you what to say.” Not, “do it for your mama” but “do it for the most High”.
Finally, whatever abilities, talents, skills we possess, they are not ours, they are His, God-given; given to us to use for His Glory. Sometimes we don’t see things such as basketball games, throwing a discus, singing a song, writing a poem, teaching, coaching, leading etc. as talent worthy of performing to His Glory. That is a failure of epic proportion on our part.