Bewildered Eyes Hack: Patience Allows Laughter

“Comedy is, for the most part, just an obsession with injustice.” Whitney Cummings

He came to school hungry
She never satiated on breakfast.
He acted out,
She sent him to the office.

Later they learned about nutrition
He taking advantage of the program
She realizing Pop-Tarts aren’t that great
The food allowed them to survive.

Years later,
He was working and shopping for produce
She was retired and doing the same.
His basket ran into her little cart.

They recognized each other
His maturity not masking the child
Her wrinkles not scratching out his memories
Of their year together in fifth grade.

They never realized the food bond between them
They never put it together that “hangry” is real
They only knew that giving each other a chance
Created a flood of memories right there in the safe part of the store.

Coaching Volleyball

Being a joke is not something that I handle very well. That being said, I have no idea why I would sign on to coach a sport that I have limited tactical understanding of. That sport is volleyball and I am coaching my school’s junior varsity for the first time. It’s also the first time I’ve ever coached girls. It’s been a crazy few weeks, but I’m starting to find my groove as I have learned a couple of things about volleyball and coaching in general.

1. Sports are sports and once you understand a few basic principles for each sport, there are only complications. The KISS principle works for coaching as well as it does for most of life. For volleyball, “read, move, and hit the ball into the air.” Volleyball Einsteins might question my elementary approach to the game, but since I don’t know what I don’t know, I must rely on keeping the game simple. I want the girls to become better players and that is more about improving their self-efficacy (the belief that they can create success) than it is about some crazy formation that has the team running all over the court and me wondering if they are in the right rotation.

We practice skills much more than we do strategy, although, I do have a bit of a basketball background, and I see zone defense principles as being applicable to our strategy. In hoops, a zone defense allows a player to guard a space. Different zones take different spaces away from an offensive team, but a player should always be ready to move wherever they are most needed. Volleyball is no different, players must cover an area. The trick is getting them into the area and the less offensive movement that is inflicted on a team, the less they have to worry about the transition from offense to defense.

I don’t know, I’m just saying…

2. Players have to play. My job is to prepare the students with the skills to be successful and give them a plan that fosters their success. Ultimately, though, the game is up to them. My goal as a volleyball coach is continuing to get the girls to believe that they can make the necessary plays. I really want to win, but a wise fellow told me that his experience with girls volleyball was that it was more about the experience than the winning and losing. His advice allowed me to continue to believe that keeping our practices simple is important. We spend very little time powering through skills or strategies that are not working. Instead, I have short periods of time that allow the girls to be mentally focused, but the drills stop before boredom sets in and any mentally drift allows for physical errors that might negatively affect their confidence.

Again, I want to focus on their believing that they are creating success.

3. Hustle is as hustlers do…I apologize for the cheap Forrest Gump rip-off, but every sport is based on hustle. Hustle is moving at the speed that is appropriate for the play. Being on time is the most important thing an athlete can do. It’s more than just being to practice on time. It’s getting to the ready position on time, contacting the ball at the right time, cheering on a teammate at the right time. Being on time is what hustle is. I joke with a colleague that I’m trying to turn my volleyball team into a pickup basketball team. We are trying to scramble to spots, get our feet into solid position, and sending the ball to a spot where the next hitter can make a play (unless it’s the third ball, duh, as we don’t want the other team to hit it). I chose to talk about playground basketball because it’s a game of hustle, hustlers win and winners get to keep playing. Not only that because often playground basketball teams are made on the fly and a player better know how to play any position and guard every spot. The general understanding of the game is a real plus for any player wanting a long run on a blacktop.

Maybe I’m overstretching my coaching analogy or just acting from ignorance, but over the last two weeks, the girls are starting to move more. We are starting to expect players to get to spots and even starting skills work 30-minutes before the “real” practice starts. I “freaking” love that.

These are a few thoughts from a guy who has little volleyball coaching experience, but this I know, self-efficacy is an important component of success. I mean, I wrote a dissertation on self-efficacy… Finding what works for the talent that a coach has is way more important than the tactical knowledge that a coach has. The relationship that the coach has with his/her players is probably more important than that. Meshing all of that together into a simple plan that promotes success is the lofty goal for getting a team to reach its potential. I think the girls on our team are on the right track and I believe that my continued understanding of volleyball can only help them get better as long as the new knowledge doesn’t create coaching clutter.

Simple…

We won our second match today. We’ve dropped four or five, so our record is not what some would consider successful. Yet we are sticking together and working hard in practice. We are getting more competitive in the games we lose and getting more consistent with our hustle so that we play better in most points. What more could I ask for? The girls are creating an atmosphere that makes me want to come back each day. It’s been fun so far and even though tomorrow is an off day at school, we will be working on our footwork and maybe even housing some Munchkins…

Bewildered Eyes Hack: Hungry, Even Less Patience

“Comedy is, for the most part, just an obsession with injustice.” Whitney Cummings

He came to school without having breakfast
Lunch was late, more than half his school day over
Before the subsidized meal got passed his way
Records showed that he spent lots of time in the office
In the periods before he ate

Mmmm, Mmmm, not good.

She noshed all morning long
Biding time on sugary drinks and powdered confections
Until she could sit in gossip in the faculty room.
Her moods went up and down with the spikes in her blood
And he drove her crazy every morning

Hmmm, Hmmm, see a trend?

They butted heads during fasting and gluttony
Waging war with imbalance inside
That proved out of whack on the outside
Turning school into a battlefield that
Could have been avoided with nutritional diplomacy.

Bewildered Eyes Hack: Tired, No Patience

“Comedy is, for the most part, just an obsession with injustice.” Whitney Cummings

Long days, short nights
Working fitness angles, working all those hours
The lines start to appear
The bags get heavier
Then it all goes awry

A comment taken the wrong way
A look misinterpreted
Jokes marching over the line,
Missiles fly with interpersonal precision,
The hurt gets splattered all over an ego

Eyes go Lizzy, finding the weakest spot to chop
Hacking away with a non-verbal ax attack
That might have been avoided
With a little sleep, a little less screen time,
More peace and quiet.