As I threw the ball out of bounds for my tenth turnover of the game and my coach decided that he had seen enough of me giving the opponent nice passes instead of my teammates, I felt as if I had not only let my team and coach down, but also as if I was unfit to play college basketball. It was the first time I had played point guard in my life, but I was not about to use this as an excuse for my poor performance, nor was my coach willing to accept this excuse. So as the horn sounded to end the game and I got up off the bench to go and shake the other team’s hands, I had an empty feeling in my stomach knowing that I had failed. I had not been able to do the job expected of me and as an athlete there is no worse feeling.
When I laid in bed at the hotel that night and thought about the game that had just been played, I not only was angry at myself, but was also dreading the tip-off in ten hours for the second game of our weekend tournament. Each turnover was replayed in slow motion in my head. One pass directly to the opponent’s hands…the next right off my own hands out of bounds…the next ricocheting off my teammate’s back as he ran down the court. Each replay was worse than the next and seemingly nothing to make me feel good about my performance or the upcoming game the next day.
And then it hit me. Something my father had always told me after poor performances in the past. The best thing about sports is that you get to go out the next day and prove to yourself, your team and everyone else who may doubt you that you belong on the court. The following game or practice should not be a source of anxiety for you, but a clean slate. However, it takes courage to put the past aside and let bygones be bygones. It’s not easy to come back from a poor performance, but laying in bed that night I made the decision that I was going to have the fortitude to step on the court the next day and do my best to get my poor performance out of my system. After all, I had not worked hard all my life to become the best basketball player I could be to let one sub par outing keep me down.
The ball was thrown in the air for the tip, and the previous night had been forgotten and I played the game how I knew I could. I made my first three shots down the court and my confidence and love for the game was back intact. My confidence level exuded over to my teammates and the whole team was in the zone. We shot a whopping 60% the first half. It seemed like every shot we took couldn’t miss. It was a great game!
That night as I laid in bed replaying each play of the game in my head, I was so grateful for the opportunity to play another game. Grateful even for poor performances that cause me to test my love for basketball and to prove myself the next game to be a lover of the game. I would like to custom order each of my games ahead of time and be able to play a great game every time I step on the court…part of my love for basketball is the anticipation of a clean slate, a brand spanking new game, new challenge that I get to meet every time I step on the court.