Although we are basketball coaches and we study our craft extensively, just like every other profession there are times when we just don’t have all the answers. Covid19 is just one example of many that I have come across recently where I have not had the answers. We are in a time where schools, conferences, and leagues are pushing start dates back even further than initially anticipated. Our players are regularly looking to us because they and their parents are wanting to make plans for their eager arrival to campus. We are dependent on something outside of ourselves with these situations and for me I know personally that is one of the hardest things to deal with. We recruit our players and are extremely excited to get to work in the fall to prepare for another championship season, but then we have to wait day to day to find out what’s going to happen this upcoming season.
This is just one example and yes it may be extreme due to the current world pandemic, but there are many times we are left without the answers our players and loved ones turn to us for. The interesting thing about not having an answer is that being without an answer by itself is neutral. It’s neither good nor bad, it just is. Even more interesting about not having an answer is that most likely it’s not true. I know when I worry about having the “right” answer, I spend more time beating myself up about why I don’t know the “right” answer than anything else. In school we learn, almost to a fault, that there are right answers and wrong answers. We then carry that over to life, so much that when we don’t have what we believe is the right answer many of us tense up and fear having to answer the question.
At one point in my coaching career I would have players come and ask me questions daily that I had no clue the answers to. One time I even had a player say, “Aren’t you supposed to be a coach?” before walking off with an eye roll. I used to make it mean something about me personally when I didn’t have the answer to a question one of my players would ask me. When I did work on this I was able to see that the true problem wasn’t that I didn’t have the answer. The problem was what I made it mean when I didn’t have the answer. I was making it mean that I was an awful coach and that because I was a coach I was supposed to have some type of answer to all of my players questions (as if I wasn’t human). When I began to have compassion for myself I was able to open up and even provide my players with more direction. As I mentioned earlier, most likely it’s not even true that we don’t have an answer, but as soon as we say “I don’t know” our brain stops looking for the answer. I began saying, “I’m not sure yet, but I will figure it out,” or even simply, “I’m figuring it out.” I’m a human just like you, and sometimes we need to have some time to figure things out. Sometimes it's okay for your “right” answer to be that you are figuring it out. Now, I actually have all the answers! HOW??? The person with all the answers is the one that doesn’t say “I don’t know”.
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