4 Lessons Basketball Teaches

It would be nice if you could just sit down and tell your child what he or she needs to know about succeeding in life, but realistically, a lot of what you say will go in one ear and out the other. Children need hands-on experience with situations that illustrate why those life lessons are so important.

Exposed to the right experiences, children can better internalize those lessons and apply what they learn. Sports, especially a fun youth basketball league, are excellent avenues for teaching your child what is really important in life.

Collaboration is Key

Collaboration, in sports and in life, is essential. Photo credit: Manson Chan

Collaboration, in sports and in life, is essential. Photo credit: Manson Chan

You hear a lot about how teamwork is an essential life skill that you'll learn in sports like basketball, but perhaps a better term to use would be collaboration. Basketball requires teammates to work together on a pre-planned offense or defense, but also to change strategies and to listen to each other. Winning a game is a collaborative effort in which everyone needs to hear what other players are thinking and then decide which suggestions work best.

Learning how to contribute and to listen to what others are saying -- and learning how different people react to events -- is a skill that your child needs to know to survive in the workplace, in family interactions, and in society in general.

Failure Is Part of Life

Losing hurts, but handling failure well is an important life skill.Photo credit: Fort George G. Meade Public Affairs Office/Flickr.

Losing hurts, but handling failure well is an important life skill.Photo credit: Fort George G. Meade Public Affairs Office/Flickr.

Failure happens. In basketball, it can be small, like a missed shot early in a basketball game, or it can be big, like accidentally blocking a would-be-winning shot from a teammate.

Your child is going to fail at other things in life, too, from relationships to work projects and more. Learning how to handle the moment of failure and its aftermath is an important life lesson. Learning how to analyze what happened so that it does not happen again is another one.

Without this knowledge, those moments of failure could dishearten a child and have more of a devastating emotional effect than is healthy. Holding onto embarrassment, frustration, and anger stemming from past mistakes can sour future attempts to succeed. Having past experience with failure and recovery, though, makes it easier to take on new challenges fearlessly.

Control and Responsibility are Essential
Everyone is prone to mistakes at one time or another. Basketball teaches your child to identify times when he or she chose the wrong action, and it provides practice for overcoming mistakes and learning from them.

It's difficult to admit being wrong, but your child needs to learn to take responsibility (when it's truly his or her fault, of course), and to move forward and make things right. Those who can graciously admit a mistake and make the situation better are going to have an easier time navigating through life both as teens and as adults. Refusing to admit a mistake can make a situation worse and result in strained personal and professional relationships.

Tain't What You Do....
Ella Fitzgerald's song about learning that it "tain't what you do, it's the way that you do it" illustrates another life lesson inherent in basketball: achieving balance. It's important to try your best. But if you constantly strain and struggle to make something happen, you'll only tie yourself and whatever you're attempting to do into knots. Achieving balance, or "being in the zone", gets better results than tensely forcing a situation.

In basketball, players learn to trust themselves and wait for proper openings that will allow them to make their moves. A free throw that's attempted under duress and tension can go wildly off mark, but a free throw that's taken when the player finds that sweet spot of concentration and relaxation has a better chance of sailing through the basket.

If children can get into the flow of the game, they'll find that plays go much more smoothly than if they're stressing out and rushing things needlessly. Players can apply this practical lesson to other areas of their lives, leading to a happier, more balanced life that is proactive instead of reactive.

Sign up your son or daughter for a Team Esface league or camp in the summer time. Not only will your child get exercise, but he or she will also begin to see how each game is a microcosm of real life played out on a court.

See you on the court soon.

Stay Hungry. Stay Esface. 

Coach Dele