“Air ball…Air ball…Air ball!” I hadn’t heard that in a long time. I would have to do some adjusting to change the way I was playing.
The mocking chant rang from the guys lips on the sidelines who were waiting to get their turn in the pickup game. I turned and acknowledged the humorous jeering, nervously chuckling over what had just happened. “Did I just shoot an air ball?” Perplexed, I strolled back down the court to pick up my man on defense.
Granted, it had been awhile since I had laced up the sneakers and touched a basketball. Two years to be exact, since the last time I led a practice as varsity boy’s coach. My commitment to take up the reins at home for Mrs. Luke1428 as she pursued a new career had put an abrupt halt to my 10-year coaching run.
Several possessions later I found the ball in my hands again, wide open just beyond the three point arc. I launched the shot again, as any great shooter would do. Short again. What’s going on here? I felt like I couldn’t even get the ball to the basket.
I knew my shooting motion was sound. You don’t forget a motion that has been hardwired into your synapses since middle school and led you to average 30 points a game your senior year at a small town private high school. Thousands of shots through the years produced a perfect motion. Knees bent…elbow tucked…release…follow through. Yet something was missing. My mind continued to process.
It took me another half-dozen misses to understand the sad reality of my struggles. When the thought occurred to me, everything made perfect sense. Resigned to my plight, I signaled for a sub to come in the game for me and walked off the court towards the bleachers muttering to myself,
“I can’t jump anymore.”
Adjusting to Change Diagnosis
The leg muscles serve as the foundation for the basketball player. They must be strong and solid as they provide lift, speed and quick lateral movements. They are key in the ability to slam-dunk and they generate the power necessary to shoot the ball from long range. Ask any ballplayer who has grown weary in the 4th quarter of a game and they will tell you – when the legs go, so does your shot.
Basketball muscles are jumping muscles. They are powerful. A basketball player conditions and trains them to jump higher and farther at a moments notice. But I had been competing in something different – post my coaching days – that had caused my muscles to undergo a metamorphosis. And I didn’t even realize the change had taken place until I stepped on the court that night.
I’ve been running. And running. And running…for two years.
My muscle fibers have changed in that time period. The leg muscles that used to routinely lift me to swish three pointers have been stretched out to endure long 26.2-mile races. No longer are they concerned with generating the elevation necessary to block a shot. They do not care about producing a short burst of speed to close a gap on defense. All they are focused on is endurance, because that is what I’ve been conditioning them for.
As I watched and then played some more that evening, some compelling thoughts continued to find their way into my mind:
1. A gain in one area of my life (running) led to an unanticipated change in another.
2. Something has to be sacrificed when we pursue a goal.
3. If my abilities are limited in an area of life, I will have to compensate for the deficiency.
4. Failure to practice a skill causes the decay of that skill.
5. Aging changes our bodies and we must cope properly with that fact.
6. Enjoyment can still be found for activities we once had a passion for.
I eventually did make several three pointer that evening as I forced myself into jumping with more effort. That felt good to know I hadn’t lost it all. But I don’t think that my basketball playing days will ever be the same. My legs just aren’t in it.
Questions: Have you had troubles adjusting to change in an area of your life? Have you ever awoken one day to realize something had unknowingly change about your life? How do you compensate for deficiencies? What serves as the financial foundation in your life?
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