Bellbottom Blog

Scratching A Writing Itch From Time To Time

Archive for the month “February, 2012”

Coaching Kids Part 2

After hitting publish on my last post, I realized there were a few things that were left out.

First of all, some coaches would look at a group of kids and decide right away who could play and who could not.  And then manage the team accordingly.  Make sure the talented kids got the ball all of the time and found ways to keep the others away from the play.

These coaches were more worried about their own records.

The problem with that approach is these kids are there to play a game they love. They all picture themselves doing something great on the court. Why deny them that chance?

I think grown-ups forget that childhood is a finite time period. You can be an adult for decades but you can only be a kid for a very short amount of time.  I think anyone who doesn’t understand that has no business working with kids.

Also, there is the matter of how kids grow physically.  Not all grow at the same rate.  The shortest kids might wind up being taller by high school than the tallest kids on the 3rd grade team. So, if you tell the tallest kids to stand by the basket all game every game and let the small kids handle the ball all the time you could be ruining both careers.  For example, the tall kid who never leaves the basket area, by high school might not be more than 6 feet tall. That is the height of a guard.  But he has spent the last several years standing under the basket. He can’t dribble or pass because his coaches never taught him those skills. They taught him enough to handle the limited role they gave him.

Here is what we did.

Every practice, we scrimmaged for about 45 minutes of the hour allotted. During that time we encouraged all the kids to take turns bringing the ball up the court.  We never taught any plays. THIS IS IMPORTANT. We ran a motion offense in which the players and the ball  kept moving .  It meant that the other team had to guard all five positions not just one or two.

We also had a rule about shooting the ball.

If you are open, and no teammate closer to the basket is open, and you are in your range as a shooter, SHOOT THE BALL. All shots following those guidelines are good shots.  I would explain that we are not playing soccer. A lot of points would be scored.  So shoot.

Now before I get fitted for a halo here, I will mention that talking to the refs was the one area where I needed work. No profanity on my part, but I did try to help them when I could. I wouldn’t allow the kids to disrespect the refs. Or complain about calls. During our scrimmages, I never wore a whistle. Rarely called a foul. I wanted them to play through anything that came up.

My favorite part of practice was near the end when with a minute or two left, I would yell out, “Next basket wins.” It was amazing to watch kids who might have been acting tired all of a sudden perk up..Some of the best basketball our teams played was in those frantic minutes.  It also turned out to be great training for the end of real games.

One other thing we did since there were usually 10 kids on a team, was divide them into two groups of five each.  They practiced  and they played on Saturday in those groups.  It made the time equal out.

I strongly encourage anyone to coach kids. I miss it every time basketball season rolls around.


Next week, the Friday Potpourri might re-appear. Until then.






Coaching Kids

This is a post I have wanted to write for a while.

I see so many stories about parents who are fed up with youth coaches and the way their sons or daughters are treated,

My wife and I had that frustration when our kids participated in youth basketball. Some coaches were alright but they all suffered from one or two major flaws.

1) They thought that the way coaches act on television was the way to treat kids. You know what I mean. Screaming and berating to make a point.

2) Overcoaching. We are talking about 3rd and 4th graders now.  These guys were talking about very involved basketball theories that they themselves didn’t understand.

3) Only coaching the kids with talent and ignoring the others who didn’t play as well.

So, what to do as a parent?  Pick another sport? We felt the only way to survive the basketball season was for me to volunteer my time and be a coach.

This was the start of a seven year adventure.  Coaching basketball from 3rd grade to 8th grade in a state (Indiana) where EVERYONE is an expert on the game.

At the start of every season I would send a letter home with the kids for their parents. I would introduce myself and explain what they could expect from me during the upcoming season.

It was simple, really. We were going to involve all the kids from the first minute of practice to the last game of the season. No matter the skill level.  We thought all some kids needed and wanted was a chance to be part of the game.  I also explained we were going to coach by positive reinforcement.  No berating, humiliating, or punishment drills. Like running sprints.  I wanted them to play without looking over their shoulders to see if they were in trouble with me.

You would think parents would be okay with that. Well, some were. But most were concerned with whether or not the team had a chance to win. So, during that first season, about halfway through it, I had unhappy parents, other coaches who were running up the score on us and refs who didn’t respect us.

I knew we were getting better but I could feel things slipping, so during this game where we were getting blown out on the scoreboard, I called a timeout.  Gathered the kids in the middle of the court, not near the bench. (I should mention at this point that my voice carries pretty well when I want it to, and this day I wanted it to.)

I told (yelled) to  the kids the following, ” I don’t care what the score says. I don’t care what the fans say. I don’t care what the refs call. I don’t care what the other team says to you. They are taller and faster than you, they are supposed to be winning by this much.  All that matters to me and all that should matter to you is this, we are getting better every week. I know this and you do to. That is all that should matter to us. Are we improving each and every week?  Yes, we are. Get back out there and keep playing hard.”

Now, if you are looking for a Disney finish to that game, don’t bother. We did lose, but the kids knew that I wasn’t going to change the approach we had started the season with. Practices were a lot of fun the rest of the year and the best part came at the start of the next season.

The first game was against the coach from that previous season.  He had most of his players back and so did I.  My kids won by 1 point. That doesn’t have anything to do with the overall point of this post, I just like typing that we won.

Back to the point of this posting, what we were hoping for with the coaching experience was simple.  Having a group of kids who would get a fair chance at playing a game they love. And they did love the game.  As the years passed,  the word got out with the kids in the program that we were a fun group to spend a few months with.

My favorite part of any game was if every kid showed up in the scorebook as having either scored or at least getting a shot. That meant more than winning because it showed everyone was involved. We felt giving a kid a chance to show what they could do and help teach them what they needed to learn was the whole point of youth sports.  And through all the kids we coached, I was never disappointed by a kid to whom we gave an opportunity.

Our approach wasn’t just making the best of a bad situation with kids who weren’t talented. The last two years we won the branch tournament and finished runner-up in the Fort Wayne city tournament twice. So, you could and can win with our way of coaching. We just didn’t put winning first.

I loved watching shy kids learn how to fit in with their teammates.

I think with kids it is important for them to develop confidence. Because, confidence is portable. You can take into your friendships, your schoolwork,any direction you want to go. We had kids try out for and make the team in: wrestling, swimming,soccer,debate, and band.

I had a blast coaching and I would encourage anyone to give it a try.







Friday Potpourri Vol. 5

Welcome back!

Survived Valentine’s Day, I see!

I have a couple of left over suggestions from previous pleas for ideas to fill out these weekly posts.

@lahikmajoe Asked what the first book or movie was that I was banned from having.

Well, that really never happened when I was growing up.

Reading was encouraged. And fortunately, my first job was at the main library in our town. I worked after school for a few hours every night except Fridays and all day Saturday. I had access to books that the general public couldn’t get to.  Books that were  too fragile for regular handling.  These books were kept in a sub- basement. It was musty and wonderful. If I hurried through putting the returned books back, I could explore the racks.

What that experience gave me was an opening to a wider variety of authors.

Now, growing up Catholic, there was a handy list of movies that were officially banned by the Church. A ratings system.  I believe “C” was the rating for the bad movies. (I would look it up but that is too much like work).

Honestly, I don’t think there were that many objectionable movies during the sixties despite how people remember that time. And that was the time I was going to movies with my parents. When I started going on my own in the early 70’s, I think my tastes were still fairly mainstream as far as the kind of movie I was interested in.

@debihen suggested in the comments section a post about self entitlement and rudeness would be a worthy topic.

That was in response to last Friday’s post.  Unfortunately, that sort of behavior does not stop at the movie theater.

I notice it in the retail area, because I worked in that kind of environment for a number of years.

People who don’t understand the concept of waiting in line. If all the cashiers are busy ringing up customers, you will have to wait your turn. No amount of sighing will speed things up. I am sure if the store had known how important you were and how valuable your time was compared to everyone else, they would have made special accommodations for you.

And when it is your turn, get your stuff out of the cart without telling the clerk how inconvenient this delay has been for you and yours. Because the clerk has been dreading your appearance as the next customer ever since you showed up at the end of the line.  (We KNOW)

I would cover more but my grandson is waking up from his nap and I am in charge today.

Thanks for stopping by.

P.S. @IbecameMyDad Is worth a follow because he featured a question of mine on his blog Wednesday. And he is funny.





Need another Valentine post to read?

Last November, we moved into a house. The movers had left us with quite a mess to deal with and considering the hectic nature of the holidays along with the insurance claim we filed, most of our stuff remained in half opened boxes.

Finally, last week, the claim was processed and we felt we could finish the unpacking process.  Books were put on shelves. Pictures are being placed. Floor space is being reclaimed.

The main thing we were looking for in a house this time was a master suite. This house has just that. A large bedroom. A large bathroom and on the other side of the bathroom a large walk-in closet.

The closet has one of those closet systems. A combination of wire shelves and plenty of area to hang clothes up.

Here is where it gets a little problematic for the two of us.

My wife likes to be very organized with her clothes. Slacks here. Blouses there. Color coordinated preferably.

Me, not so much. I was using the shelves for almost all of my stuff.  T-shirts mixed with sweatshirts mixed with jeans.  No rhyme or reason to it.

As we were straightening our space out, we attacked her part of the closet. and got everything just where she wanted it.

I should mention here that I do all the laundry, so the mess is really all my fault.

Anyway, after she went to work Monday afternoon, I went out to buy some flowers for Valentines Day. Since we had made the bedroom look so good, I thought the flowers should be placed in that room. I put the vase where she could see them as she came in.

I was very pleased with myself. I also had a little time on my hands, so I went into the closet and hung everything of mine that had been on shelves. Like a big boy. Still no method to it but the shelves were clear.

A few hours later, the garage door opens. My wife is home. I can’t wait for her to see the flowers.

She goes upstairs. I hear some shuffling around.  20 minutes go by. Eventually, she starts back down the stairs. A big smile on her face.

I think the flowers were a big hit.

She moves close to me and says, “I put your clothes in order.”

“Did you see the flowers?”

“Yes, they are nice.”

“But, you liked the closet better?”

Even bigger smile,”Yes, I did..”

We went upstairs and she showed me the sweatshirts in one spot, then t-shirts, then sweaters, then jeans, then button up shirts.

21 Valentine Days together. Lots of candy and flowers. A Garth Brooks concert.  But I will have to say the smile in her eyes yesterday made this the best one yet.





Friday Potpourri Vol. 4

Well , we here at the Bellbotton Blog have been under the weather this week.

But, I know several people look forward to this end of the week post, so here goes.

I sent out my usual request for suggestions and received a couple.

@ValZwald suggested a Valentine’s Day theme. Sort of.

Her Tweet went like this:  “Valentines’s Day!! Love is in the air..Oh, wait. No, That’s not love. I forgot I live in a dairy town….”

@lucysfootball suggested “People’s entitled behavior in movie theaters lately.”

But first a Grandparenting tip: My wife discovered that our 11 month old grandson loves the ’70’s music channel on Comcast.

Everything from the Commodores to Stephen Stills.  He will rock back and forth, trying to sing along a little. As his grandparents sing with the songs.  He likes that sooo much better than any of the cartoon networks.

I haven’t been to a movie theater in a while, because of that kind of problem.

I can put up with the oversized drinks which seem to be filled with stuff that make me more not less thirsty.

Large tubs of popcorn with mystery golden flavoring.

But the people who come in to just talk to the screen or much, much worse each other should be beaten with sticks.  Yep, we are talking about violence here.  We at the Bellbottom Blog seem calm enough most of the time, but if you are using the time to catch up with an old friend, stay in the DAMN lobby.

I love movies. My parents used to take us to one as often as they could afford it when we were growing up.  Big screens.  Folks dressed up. I remember seeing The Sons of Katie Elder when it first came out.  I know it is on all the time now, but on the big screen….Amazing! I think it was better than the original True Grit. Movie stars who were over six feet tall. Dennis Hopper, who made a specialty of getting killed in westerns during that stage of his career. (Gunfight at the O.K. Corral, True Grit)

The only movie I can really remember people being absolutely still for was the last part of Apollo 13.  While everyone is waiting to hear from the astronauts as they re-enter earth’s atmosphere. You could hear a popcorn kernel drop in the theater.  (And that movie lost out to Braveheart for Best Film that year?????) Robbery.

Anyway, if you are going to the movies remember these tips.  Go to the bathroom before you go in, Buy all the food you need after you come out of the bathroom.(Do remember to wash your hands)And don’t talk until the credits roll at the end of the movie.

I don’t live in a dairy town, in fact I have always been a city boy. As my Oklahoma-born wife loves to remind me. But there was a time, specifically high school, when I became very familiar with farms and farm kids.

We lived on the outskirts of town and the nearest and cheapest high school was about 10 miles away in the middle of Hoosier Farmland.I didn’t know anyone.

And all they knew about me was that I was one of the kids who came on the bus from the city. When Val mentioned the aroma, I knew exactly what she was referring to because I drove through it when the fields were being fertilized.

I have a great amount of respect for anyone who farms for a living.  But their kids could have been a little nicer to the city kids, just sayin’.

As far as Valentine’s Day goes, a lot of crummy movies  and tv episodes have been made about this particular holiday. Poems and books have been written about it. Hallmark makes a fortune with it.

So, I don’t know what to add. Except this.

If you don’t take the time to let the one you love know how you feel, everyday, all the candy and flowers in the world won’t make up for it.

Thanks Val and Amy









Friday Potpourri Super Bowl Edition

We are coming LIVE from Indy. Home of this years Super Bowl.

What this will be today is random parts of my live blog  of Sunday’s game.

I would do the live blog on the day of the game but it might get lost in the shuffle.

So, let’s do this thing!

12:00 – 6:00 A lot of meaningless stories about every coach, player, equipment manager, and waterboy.

A fun drinking game would be to drink everytime someone expresses their surprise at how well Indy has handled hosting the game. (Not that we here at the BellbottomBlog condone drinking.)


(At a party, somewhere in Texas, a woman armed with the world’s longest extension cord, a laptop, Cheetos, and a sizable bottle of vodka slips into a closet for the next several hours.)

6:01-6:25 Player introductions and the coin toss. Otherwise known as the last chance to get settled in for the game.

6:26 Kelly Clarkson sings the National Anthem ending with a dozen doves flying out of her skirt.

6:29 The Blue Angels have a flyover that no one can see because we are in a DOME.

6:30 The Giants coach informs Homeland Security that the guy on the opposite sideline is with Occupy: Indy.

6:31 A startled Bill Belichick is escorted out of the arena never to return.

6:32 The opening kickoff goes through the end zone.

6:33-6:55 Commercials.

Skipping ahead…

7:35 Three minutes before halftime Madonna , furious over Kelly Clarkson and the dove trick, is back in her hotel room, refusing to come out.

7:40 A local high school band performs their usual halftime routine at the Super Bowl.  Later it will be found to have gotten the highest ratings for any halftime show, ever.

7:58-8:08 More commercials including the Ferris Bueller one. John Hughes spins in his grave. People use this time for a bathroom and snack break.

(I am skipping the football action in deference to the friends of this blog who don’t care for football)

(And I don’t want to give away the ending)

Finally the game ends and to make up for a whole day of football, men all over America sit through the season opener of The Voice.

The regular Friday Potpourri will be back next week

If you have any topic that you would like me to cover next Friday, let me know on Twitter or in the comments section.

And someone should check that closet in Texas Sunday night to make sure everything is ok.









I have been wondering about movies.

Specifically, how our view of them might change as time goes by.

Let’s take two from a certain era: Star Wars and Rocky.

Star Wars was, as George Lucas has said, was a space western.  The good guys were really good and Darth Vader was really evil.

Seeing it in the theater, back when it first came out, was quite an experience.  In the 70’s,most films were light on special effects and long on dialogue.

You know the ones.  The Godfather. Annie Hall. An Unmarried Woman. Dog Day Afternoon. All wonderful.

You could see where movies were about to go. Bigger effects, splashier colors.  What was going to give? The writing.  Story.

But at the same time, here comes Rocky.

A small story about one man’s search for love and redemption.

And make no mistake, it was a love story. Remember Rocky taking Adrian skating.  Protecting her from Paulie.

The writing was so well done. It was the little movie that could. Before Stallone became Sly.

Sooo, how have they held up?

Well, George Lucas keeps remaking,redoing, even 3D ing, Star Wars. If he isn’t satisfied, who am I to offer a different opinion?  It is showing its age.

On the other hand, I think Rocky holds up very well.  Every time I watch it, I am sucked right back into that wonderful story.

I am having a hard time trying to think of a current movie that would have the staying power of these two.

Unless Jack and Jill gets re- released in 3D.


Post Navigation