During any given practice, there are those moments when a player needs to be corrected for making a mistake in carrying out his or her assignment. However, it is much more often the case when the player could not be made to feel any worse for having committed the error.
Players caught in such a moment would likely be seen slapping themselves upside the head and heard muttering something to the effect of, “Dangit…that was stupid…sorry coach.”
As a football coach (it all comes back to football), my standard response would be to place a hand on the shoulder of the player and then speak in a tone that insinuated I was letting him in on one of life’s greatest secrets. “Relax,” I would say, “that’s why we aren’t playing the game today. We are practicing so that YOU WILL get it right on gameday.”
I was reminded of that coaching point during a recent sermon.
The church I attend has recently had a great focus on how to truly love in the Christian sense. And just like that player described hitting himself upside the head, I have been beating myself up over what I have been perceiving as mistake after mistake after mistake…
Unfortunately, the conviction on my heart was far beyond my simply being able to raise my hand with the admission of “my bad” and then moving on to the next play. But after being better coached on the lessons found within our Christian Bible (Ephesians 4:20-27), I am starting to feel a hand upon my shoulder and the whispers of reassurance. Let me explain:
I would be watching a news broadcast of riots, and…
I would be witnessing the persecution of Christians by Islamic fundamentalists, and…
I would see the further persecution of Christians by the United States government or by citizens of our country, and…
Someone would mistreat my kids and…
Whoa…now you know how that one ends. Mess with me all you want, but mess with my kids and…
Hate with action, and as a former marine I felt that I would be more than able and willing to take the action.
That is what I would PRACTICE in my mind, but then…
TIME TO SCRIMMAGE
Just as a coach hopes to see practice performance improved when putting a player into a scrimmage situation,…
I would wish a blessed day upon a person that resembled those who chose to riot.
Instead of taking the action I practiced in my mind, I would hold the door open and warmly greet individuals wearing long flowing clothes and head scarves.
I would shake my head in disbelief as I walked away from having a polite conversation with that very same person that did my kids wrong.
Was I getting too old? Too soft? Too weak?
Or, was I taking that which was being taught to me on the “practice field” and finally performing at a more spiritually mature level when placed in a “scrimmage” situation?
I’ll probably need a few more scrimmages before I know for sure.
A good coach always works to get his players ready to perform at their peaks on gameday. Peak too early, and your players waste a whole lot of good plays on the practice field. Too late, and your players are going to lose–big.
As an old ball coach, I have come to realize that it is better to prepare to win. So, excuse me as I go back to reading that Great Playbook. Today isn’t gameday, but tomorrow just might be.