It was the final game of the season against our cross town rival. We had a two-point lead and there were 15 seconds remaining in the game. Our small forward smacked the basketball signaling to the other 4 players to begin the play. The shooting guard cut in one direction, my power forward in another direction, and our point guard went to set a screen for the center. Our 6’4, 8th grade center, came straight forward and received a lob pass from my small forward. Just as he was told, my small forward jabbed in one direction and quickly cut to the basket. He was wide open and the center provided a perfect pass for a layup that sealed the game.
Prior to the play, there was no hesitation on what I would call. We would be taking the ball out from half-court, the opposition was losing, and would be forced to play full-court man to man defense. The assistant coach handed me the whiteboard and I immediately began drawing up the play. We broke the huddle yelling “finish” as I was determined not to make the same mistake twice.
Earlier in the season, our team was faced with a similar situation. Instead of making an aggressive call, I played it safe and focused on just getting the ball inbounds. No need to take any risk I thought. We ended up losing the game and I regretted not making the call the moment the game was over, on the bus ride home, and days after the game.
“If I would have called it” I kept thinking to myself, “we would have won”. I repeatedly asked myself “Why didn’t you call it?” This isn’t the first time I have had post game regrets as a basketball, football, and track coach. There are plenty of plays, substitutions, strategies, and decisions that all coaches wish they could have back, do over or change. Some of the errors stick with you more than others but the reality is the same for each one. You can’t go back!
The moment the game clock hits 0’s, the game is over, and it can never be played again. My mind might allow me to replay it over, and over, and over; but the Universe doesn’t operate that way. All I and any other coach can do is learn from the mistake and try not to repeat it. It may be the very next game or it could be seasons later; but the goal is to make the right call the next time the situation arises.
The same can be said about the missed calls, bad plays, and blown opportunities in the game of life. We can replay those moments in our heads and say “If I would have” over, and over, and over. However, that game is over. It can’t be played again and that wrong call, bad strategy, or terrible decision is unfortunately in the record books.
What we can do is admit our mistakes, learn from them, be better from them, and when faced with a similar challenge, do differently. The hope is to call the right play the next time or dare I say a better play; because the real losses occur as a result of the failure in not adjusting, not learning, and continuing to do the same thing over and over.