So bone tired, it reminds me of being a teenager…

07 Feb

When you mentally tackle problem, after problem, after problem you can end up tired by the end of the day. My field is a field of problem solvers. That’s the way it is.

But that tired feeling today reminded me today of when I was a teenager. I played 11 years of basketball. I was point guard and team captain. Back in those days, girls basketball games were started with a jump ball. I remember one season when we were up against this team and their coach would put their center to jump against me on the game opener. I’m not that tall (about 5′4″) but I have really long legs. I had the same coach for basketball kindergarten through 9th grade. He always thought I was good jumper so he would have me do the opening jump ball. But this girl was 6′2″ and unlike most tall girls, she was flexible and could really jump. She smacked that ball down so fast and was so much higher than me I knew we were in trouble.

They mopped the floor with us in that game because she could get every rebound. We couldn’t block her shots because she could jump and she could move for a tall girl. We worked so hard but of course we lost.

After the game, coach told me, “Well she’s your age. So I hate to say this but you’re going to see her again next season. And unless you want a repeat of this experience, you’re going have to learn to jump higher. You’re going to have to figure out how to fly.”

I thought, “How in the world am I going to learn to jump higher? I’m already giving this everything I have. She’s 10 inches taller than me.”

At the end of the school year, I knew what I would have to do. That was the summer that we started breaking into the gym. I would go up onto the roof that covered the door and then reach up to the second floor and grab a window and pry open. The gym didn’t have air conditioning so the windows were cracked. And I would go into a gym with no lights and no air conditioning in the heat of summer. I started with attaching a rope to an eyehook on the wall and attaching the other end to a free weight on the floor. Now I had a steep “slope” to tackle. And I would start jumping up the rope, left side to right side, trying to work higher and higher on the rope. Believe me, you’re motivated not to miss. And I would do it over, and over, and over again. Then I would go practice on a door frame. Put a visual mark above the door and jump for it. Now move the mark higher. Jump for it.

Then I would work on stretching to get those hamstrings as flexible as I could. Back then I could do a spit so I would work on those. Anything to stretch those legs.

Day in and day out. All summer long. And I would do things like practice foul shots because coach said that games were made or lost on foul shots alone.

If I didn’t have anyone to practice passing with, I would use the wall. And on and on it went for hours every day. As a point guard, I learned my whole game was in my finger tips. Jump balls were won on fingertips. The ice on a foul shot was the finger tips. Controlling the ball around the back or through the legs was finger tips. My touch and learning how to control it would be crucial. Stealing the ball was in the fastest jab I could make and having precise finger tips.

And the next season, Coach was right. She was back with a big smile and smirk as we stood across from one another for the jump ball.

We had positioned our players so that my best guard was behind me to the left, in case she out jumped me and tipped to her point guard. And we positioned our Center to receive my tip if I won because she could shoot from really far away as well as pass really hard if I made a fast break for the basket.

So I got into stance, and when the whistle blew, we both went airborne for as high as we could reach. I was determined not to be humiliated like the year before. My fingers went two inches higher than her highest reach and I tipped to my center.

But in that split second our game was made, because not only was she surprised, she was downright shocked and it flustered her for the whole game. We got the mental edge we needed. My team was no longer defeated mentally or physically.

I wasn’t nearly as tired coming out of that game. I had her game figured out. I did learn to fly. I did it so well that the Track coach in the audience took notice and that year was the year I was assigned not only the 100, 200, 4 x100, 4 x 200 and the relays (which I always did) but now the hurdles. I hate hurdles but I can fly over them. I was always very fast. To practice those, I would run through people’s yards on the way home and jump over their lawn furniture and onto and over the retaining walls. I ended up with the legs of a gazelle – nimble, fast, and with a light touch.

And business can be like that too. Some times you have to spend some time figuring out new systems and software but once you know, the day will be easier next time. There will be a day when you’re not as tired when you figure out the game.

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