photoLast week I talked about hanging up my basketball shoes. It’s been a while since I’ve been able to play the way I want to play. And though I’ve found that this is how it works as I get older and don’t practice much, this feeling would hit me on occasion even when I was young. I LOVE basketball, but there were many times during my career when I went through slumps, times I literally feared the free throw line because I knew that my shot wouldn’t go in. One slump was so bad that during an overtime game against Idaho State, the entire opposing bench (including their coaches) yelled out, “foul number 10,” when they needed our team to go to the line so that they might have a chance to get the ball back.

I was #10.

It took a long time to recover from that, but the one thing that I found helped the most was, to do my best to clear my mind of the negative thoughts (that were mostly coming from me at that point), and simply keep working hard. Basketball is not an easy game and there are so many pieces that need to come together in a constantly changing environment, that it takes a lot of practice. And even with a lot of practice, you can never get everything perfect, just better. So if you’re struggling and wondering why you play this game, instead of stepping away from it, put some more time in on the court and you’ll not only improve, but you’ll find what it was that drew you to the game to begin with, why you play. It’s there that you will find inspiration.

The first time I went to see a basketball game when I was a young kid, I remember telling my mom, “I want to play basketball.” It looked like so much fun and when I started to play, I discovered that it was fun. I have been playing ever since. So in my most recent game, I reminded myself of my love of the game and hit the court with a new energy. I played a little better, closer to my old self, but more important, I had a blast.

I guess I will keep my basketball shoes after all.