What makes us gravitate toward different likes and dislikes? What makes one person love to play the piano, others to love to knit or ride a motorcycle or read, or for some of us to love to play basketball? Is it just within us or are we a product of our parents and our environment? Sometimes I wonder.
Take me for example. Why do I love to play basketball? My parents didn’t play, I had no influence to take part in the game. I simply goofed around in the driveway with a basketball when I was young, watched a couple of college games in Montana and then years later tried out for our middle school team because I wanted to, and I have been playing ever since.
Even when I play badly or get beat up, I’m still drawn back to the court. In fact, as I’m writing this blog my jaw aches, my head is throbbing and my teeth hurt, because this morning when I was playing I took a flying elbow to the chin and kept right on playing. (Okay I took a few seconds to silently drop a few choice words, shake out the cobwebs, and then waited through a couple of, “Are you okay’s?” before I opened my jaw wide, to make sure it still worked, rubbed the pain from my brow and proclaimed that I was ready). But I played, and WANTED to play.
You would think such a knock in the head would make me think twice about this addiction of mine, but what’s funny is that it got me going. It pissed me off and brought out my competitive spirit. (Which I’ve learned to contain a bit. After all, I play for fun these days, I’m not in college anymore). But I was fired up, and for a while anyway, I picked up the pace, that is until my age and lack of conditioning brought me back to reality.
As a coach, sometimes I wonder why the kids play. Some of the girls that I have coached over the years love the game, you can tell. Some play basketball because they enjoy the camaraderie and friendships that they build, and some just want to try something new, push themselves a little, expand their horizons. But I think that there are many girls that are pushed to play. And that continual pushing can scare them away instead of bringing them closer to the game. I doubt that many are told that they HAVE to play, but does it have to be a direct demand to still feel that way if you’re a kid? I don’t think so. Expectations, some good and others unreasonable, can be set within a family’s dynamics way before the child gets to a high school tryout?
When my daughter decided not to play softball last year, my husband was bummed. He had developed a tight bond with her over the years by playing catch. He had learned not to always coach her and to sometimes just be there with her. “Make it fun,” I suggested early on, “and she will want to play catch.” And for years she would grab her mitt, and her dad, and they’d hit the park across the street for hours. Though she loved pitching to her dad, she never really loved the game of softball, but still played on the high school team for two years and then last year she decide to try out for the school musical. The theater group would be her team that spring and that was okay and it was the perfect opportunity to grow and learn about her likes and dislikes. Try something new. I don’t know what she’ll do this spring, but I do know that we will support her in her choice as she is a senior and will be making many of her decisions on her own very soon.
Would I love to watch her play softball? Yes. Would I like to watch her in the musical again? You bet. Will she get to hang out and play video games? No. That would be when she would have to make her own decision on what job to get. But she will be finding what is right for her.
Why do I play ball? I guess I play because I love it. All of it. After the game continued the other day when I was playing, I did enjoy a couple of nice shots, a sweet pass and yes, a couple of turn overs. (Which is always good to remind me, the coach me, that nobody is perfect.) And I ended the game with a smile. But even when I come home from the gym mad after stinking on defense and bricking my shots, there’s something about it I love. It doesn’t hurt that it’s a fun way to get my exercise, but its more than that. I will continue to play until my knees no longer allow me to move at a competitive pace. But when a person is young sometimes it takes a while to find what it is you really love to do. It’s important to try new things and to keep on trying things as long as you live. (I didn’t find out that I love to write until I was in my 30’s.)
So go out and do those things that you love, don’t question why, just do them, and then don’t be afraid to try new things and make sure that you allow your kids to do the same.