Wednesday, December 16, 2015

An Equal Opportunity for Fun

Today's post was written by Demetrius Jackson.  Demetrius is a junior at Notre Dame and is majoring in Sociology. He is a student in the Social Foundations of Coaching course taught by Play Like a Champion Founder and Director Professor Clark Power and Program Director Kristin Sheehan. Demetrius is also a guard on the Notre Dame Basketball Team,.

During my time at Notre Dame as a student-athlete, I have had the opportunity to be a role model to a lot of young basketball players. It is important to us to represent the program standard on and off the court--not only for ourselves, but for our families, and all the young players who want to be like us someday. Every year, the program hosts a camp for the kids. Usually, we only have a little interaction with some of the campers through autograph sessions. They also watch us play pick up every night. However, since I live in South Bend, I was able to stick around when my teammates when home, so I was able to be a coach-counselor for the camp. 

My experience as a coach was very exciting, as I had a great group of young kids. The camp was open to both boys and girls, and the one young lady on my team, was also the most talented player on our team. Most, if not all, of the kids at the camp had parents or relatives that were season ticket holders. The campers were very familiar with the players on the Notre Dame Basketball team. I felt a special need to be a great coach and a good role model because a lot of them told me that they thought of me as their favorite player, which definitely increased the pressure.

One of my biggest struggles was making sure each of my players got equal opportunities. This meant equal playing time, making sure we played as a team and shared the ball, and making sure everyone had fun. Making sure that everyone had fun was the biggest challenge, but what is any job or task without a challenge? I set up an offense that required us to make sure everyone touched the ball before a shot went up in a half court setting. I tried to keep things exciting for my players by celebrating everything. Whenever an individual made a big shot or a minor defensive block, I celebrated with them like I was a player. I did my best to focus on teaching them how to play the game the right way while also having fun. In youth sports today, there is such a emphasis placed on winning that some kids get “burnt out” or lose their passion by the time they are young adults, and I didn't want that to happen with my kids. 

From our reading in the Social Foundations of Coaching class, I have learned that play gives children the encouragement and physical activity they need to develop their brains for future learning.  Through play, children discover, invent, and create. They mature in their social skills and ways of thinking, learn how to deal with emotions, improve physical abilities, and find out about themselves and their capabilities. A child’s “play’ forms a solid foundation for a life of learning.  I was able to apply this by giving the kids fun drills and keeping them actively engaged and promoting an environment where worked hard and built each other up.

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