Sometimes, we don’t “get things right” on the first, second, or even multiple attempts. How do you keep persevering when things aren’t going your way, or seem more challenging than you expected?
Recently I attended my son’s 7th grade basketball game. Both teams just began their seasons within the last 2 weeks, and were pretty evenly matched opponents. It was a close score throughout the game.
If you’ve spent time watching or participating in sports, you have probably experienced a game where an athlete appears to be having an “off” game.
My son was having one of those days on the offense side of his performance. His defensive game was fantastic, resulting in several steals and assists toward teammate’s scoring buckets. On the other hand, he could not seem to score a basket on any of his own shot attempts! One time, the basketball circled the rim nearly a full 360 degrees before falling off – no points other than via free throws. His smirk of chagrin and quick shake of the head showed he was well aware of his struggle during his several attempts for a basket.
The game went into overtime. At the end of overtime, it was still tied. The teams then compete via “sudden death”, where the first team to score becomes the winner of the game. The other team had the ball first, but missed their shot. Back down the court they went. The ball passed from my son to a teammate, and the shot was missed. Our team rebounded the ball, and passed it to my son.
He took the shot. Swish. His team won! The team was excited and rushed him on the court. His perseverance to keep playing his best, to keep taking the shot, was critical during a pressure situation.
Lessons from the game:
- Keep Shooting. Sometimes when we don’t succeed fast, we stop trying. Instead, keep working for your best angle toward the basket – toward your goal.
- Keep Your Chin & Your Grin Up. Find ways to “shake it off” and remain committed to your goal. A sense of humor about a situation, no matter how bleak (or public, as in a court full of peers and parents), can go a long way.
- Play the Long Game. Define long-term success, celebrate the little successes along the way, and learn from the missed opportunities. Work with your team to adjust your plays to get the results you want.
No matter what, keep shooting. You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.