Hope for your financial life and beyond

Adjusting to Change

“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.

adjusting to changeThe 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?

Photo by Toddizza at Wikimedia Commons

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  1. you young kids…I happened on to this blog as a neighbor told my brother…”I cant jump up and down anymore” and he was serious.

  2. Sadly, my knees just won’t allow me to run every day like I used to, but I’ve learned to love other things and it has made me a more well rounded athlete. I also noticed that to get up early and function well, I have to go to sleep at a decent hour. I may have lost a few steps physically, but I think I’ve gained much wisdom, so smarter accounts for something I hope.

    • I have to go to sleep early as well Kim. Most mornings I’m up between 4-4:30 so I can get my running in before work. I try to target 9:00 pm as bedtime but don’t always make it. I didn’t always used to be a morning person, but since I’ve been basically been on this schedule for the past year or so, by body has adjusted and doesn’t mind the early morning hours. I even get up early on days I don’t run just because my body is ready to go.

  3. I haven’t played basketball for years, but I used to really enjoy playing. I can only imagine the adjustment period if I were to get back into it. This was a perfect illustration of how gaining in one area usually results in a loss in another. I can work more hours in a week but it will result in less time for building relationships. I can spend a lot of time working on my yard or outdoor projects, but the indoor projects will be left undone. Life is all about choosing priorities.

    • I’m experiencing this “gain in one, lose in another” phenomenon in by blogging right now. I was so involved over the summer but had in-service this week as I began preparing to teach school again this fall. More hours spent there means less hours interacting in the blogging community. Great that I have a job, but bummer that I miss contributing like I wish.

  4. Interesting, didn’t think running could have that affect. It’s alright, I’m sure you’ll get your jump shot back!

  5. Great thoughts here. It reminds me of how so many people always say that my boyfriend must play basketball, because he’s tall. He always said he can’t jump at all – I suppose being a runner has something to do with it!

    When I realized that I wasn’t able to eat the foods I had always eaten before, because they were causing heartburn or some other stomach issue, it was a wake-up call. While I still indulge in some foods, I eat them far less, and I’ve been trying new things. Age probably has something to do with it. I’ve been picky my whole life and it’s difficult to transition out of it, but I know it’s for the better.

    • The older we get the more important the diet becomes. I’ve really realized that in the last couple of years. Maybe that is why it’s good to develop the right habits when we are younger so it will be less of a transition to make as we get older.

  6. Solid illustration and thought! Man I just turned 30 and I really feel like my ability to do martial arts & play basketball have declined. It’s frustrating–coping with injury and have to give time to heal has only resulted in other stuff to get weaker–and I’m not even an old man yet!

    It’s good to think about what are our PERISHABLE skills that we want to retain and continue to cultivate.

    • Thanks Todd! I’ve really noticed the time to heal factor as taking longer the older I get. I used to get a sprained ankle and be out there by the next game. Now they take a week to heal.

  7. Great message and a really nice tie-back to life in general. There are lots of things in my life that have changed over the years. The first Patriots pre-season game is tomorrow and I realized yesterday that I can’t even name all of our starters. In past years I couldn’t given you the entire depth chart. But I can still enjoy the season, it just might be different. Being able to accept and embrace those changes, without losing the things that are truly important to you, is an essential part of life.

  8. Laurie @thefrugalfarmer says

    Great post, Brian!! As a now 46-year old who still thinks she’s 30, LOTS has changed in terms of what I can’t do anymore. I simply choose to work harder at eating better and exercising, and be the best that I can be. Still, it’s hard to get used to the fact that my metabolism is so much slower and that I really can’t eat a half gallon of ice cream or a large order of cheese curds anymore. 🙂

    • I’m going to second what Laurie said as a 42 year old. When I play beach volleyball against teenagers (like I used to in tournaments) we’d call them The Bendies, because they could flop around and do all kinds of crazy maneuvers that we couldn’t because we were so stiff. And yes my metabolism has slowed down too, and have to work twice as hard as my 20 and 30-something counterparts to keep weight off.

      And yes, long distance running is the quickest way to lose your jumping abilities. I’ve been doing a little jump training around the house since I started playing again.

    • Thanks Laurie. I feel really good which makes me think I’m still 30. And I’m with you on the ice cream dangers. We have a brand of ice cream here in the south called Blue Bell (maybe they are nationwide…I don’t know). It’s the best I’ve ever tasted and has completely spoiled me for all other ice creams. I can’t buy it though because it only lasts about a day in our house. And the ingredients…well, let’s just say they are not the healthiest.

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