This week’s blog was written by Ryan McGarry, Local Fellow at PeacePlayers International – Northern Ireland
This Saturday sees the first of the year’s U12 Blitz Tournaments held by PeacePlayers NI.The U12 Boys team have been training almost every Saturday alongside some of our older participants in our Saturday Rec League program.
It has been great to watch this group grow and develop their skills, most coming from a background where PeacePlayers was their first experience in basketball. In spite of this, we have started to see many of our participants becoming even more comfortable on the court!
What I love about people playing with that ‘natural’ style of someone who is constantly training – is that you can observe their desire to keep getting better. That first time someone makes a reverse lay-up, they turn around with a massive smile, before going back and shooting 100 more.
A key theme that myself, Jazz and Sally have been reminding everyone of every week; is not to let mistakes or missed shots get the better of you. Every time someone makes a mistake in training, they get a little bit better at what they just attempted. This is easy for me to say now (when I was 12- 15 I was the one huffing in the corner after missing an easy shot) But I feel like our Rec Leaguers’ get it more than I did!
In regards more specifically to the U12s, it has been an interesting experience for me in coaching them. I come from a background of high intensity competition – anything I lacked in skill, I made up for with work effort. Playing on traditional sports teams and experiencing the highs and lows that come with it.
This U12 team is different in so many ways to my past experience. Not in that the boys aren’t competitive, it’s just that, the idea of winning being the ultimate goal is not one that we ascribe to. It took me a while to look past the relaxed approach that most of our team has, at first I thought they were just turning up to hang out with their friends that they didn’t get to see during the week. Over time, however, I realized that these boys loved playing basketball, loved improving and winning just as much as I did when I was that age, it’s just that they don’t want that ‘win’ to come at the expense of enjoying themselves, and playing because they want to play, not because they have to.
I’ve come to appreciate this outlook and it in turn, has shaped the way I coach the boys. To be honest it’s made me enjoy coaching on Saturday mornings far more!
This tournament on Saturday will be the second in which the PPI U12 boys have played in. We haven’t had the most match experience – but we’re not letting that affect us. We’re maybe not the team that goes in and blows everyone away by twenty or thirty points – but we’ll go out and play as a team, have a great time, and I know every mistake we make will keep us on that path of improvement.
(The blitz is on from 10:00am – 2PM GMT. Feel free to tune into our PeacePlayers International – Northern Ireland Facebook Page (www.facebook.com/peaceplayersni) where we will be sharing live videos. We will also be updating our Instagram stories via the global PeacePlayers handle @peaceplayersintl