Running shots -- also known as lay-ups. I remember being in my driveway and my dad teaching me how to do what I called a "running shot." I would ask him to count how many I could make in a row with my right hand, and then he told me I had to learn how to use both hands, that the left side was a whole lot harder. That Little Tikes hoop got lots of action. What the younger version of myself thought was playing around, was my dad teaching me how to play basketball.
The thing about growing up with your dad as the coach in elementary and middle school is when you leave practice, practice isn't over. You are going to relive almost every second of that practice or game the entire drive home, the whole dinner, and maybe if there is a disagreement about something that happened or needs to happen -- that practice is going to last until you finally go to sleep. There is going to be an analysis on most drills and team attitudes -- then a deep analysis on you and what you need to do.
And he has keys to the gym and balls, so if you don't have scheduled practice, you are probably going to the gym to work on some things and shoot free throws. Those times in the gym when we got bored are when you taught me how to cross someone over on the dribble and how to steal their dribble. When you taught me how to do the up and under and little tricks like tugging on your offensive player's shorts to annoy them.
During halftime locker room lectures, you are definitely going to be ripped apart. Your dad is not going to be gentle with your feelings and emotions. They will also build you up and are not afraid to give you credit when it is due. They are your biggest fans and biggest critics.
The funny thing about going from being a coach's kid player to having your dad pick you up after practice is now he is beyond curious about every little drill you did at practice and how you did and who did really well and what the coaches say about your performance and the list goes on and on.
There are a lot of questions asked, and then during the games since he can't pull your arm and tell you what to do on the bench anymore, he waits for silence in the gym and yells from the bleachers. Looking back on those moments they are funny, but there's nothing quite like your dad yelling something obnoxious or exactly the opposite of what your coach just told you. And at high school girls games on a Tuesday, the silence could probably but cut with a knife, so you know everyone heard him speaking his mind. But, thank goodness for those embarrassing yells telling me to drive or go left.
It is funny now to no longer have a hand in athletics and to hear now how my dad talks to my brother about his sports or watches his games. It is fun to be on the other side of the spectrum and see how it is as an outsider.
But, all in all, I would not have been the athlete I once was without my dad as my coach. And I would not have had the type of relationship I have with him now without all those long talks in the car about every little detail of the game. So, here's to you, Pops. Thank you.