Thoughts from a Mom with a Young Basketball Girl (A Mumbles Post – 79)

Good Monday Morning! How is your President’s Day? Mine is FABULOUS now that I know the snow we received last night and early this morning was not enough to compel school closing. So I have a day off work and I am free to do what I will for the next few hours. I scheduled a couple of appointments I needed to get done today and I might slip in for a pedi/mani if I have some time.

I have some lingering thoughts I wanted to write about basketball. Girls basketball in particular, since that is my experience so far. Yesterday was the end of Helen’s basketball season. She plays in a development league for our Catholic schools and it ends in a tournament each year.

1. I love helping to coach her team. A dad is the main coach for the girls and he’s terrific. I mostly just nod my head and reinforce with support. The girls are so much fun. They are all sweet. My experience coaching girls is that sometimes someone needs to step in and discipline a little or keep the girls focused on the task at hand. I have had to do this only a few times in the course of two seasons. These girls really want to learn how to play basketball. AND…they have a ton of fun together. I never have to get on any of them for picking on each other. They laugh. A lot. I love that.


2. Sitting on the bench helps me keep calm and cool perspective. From what I understand, hearing opposing teams’ parents up in the crowd would most likely cause my blood to boil. So, I am spared all that by coaching. Sad, though, that parents are actually the worst culprits of poor sportsmanship.

3. Speaking of sportsmanship…parents — your kids are watching you. They hear what you say and they see what you do. If you are poor sports, your kids will be, too. 

4. Evidence of #3: yesterday, Helen’s team lost in the tournament championship game by a buzzer beater put-back from the other team. Heartbreaking. She came back to me with tears. I told her to take a deep breath — it was time to congratulate the other team on a job well done. As they went through the line, the first couple of girls from the other team leaned into her face and chanted, “We won! We won!” in that nasty little girl way some girls do. When Helen told me this, what could I say? Teaching moment right there — we discussed that we still congratulate the winners on a game well-played and try to win next time. And should we win, remember how it felt to be on the receiving end of poor sportsmanship and do the right thing.

5. Oh. And one of the girls on the other team kept jabbing, pushing and pinching my daughter and when Helen asked her to stop, she said, “This is basketball!” 

As you know, the instigator in these situations, often goes unnoticed and when someone retaliates, they are often seen by the referee and called for a foul. Several times this year, my daughter and other girls on the team have gotten so frustrated with the physical play that they have pushed back. We talk with them about no pushing, but it’s so hard for 8- and 9-year-old girls to understand how to play a physical game without getting frustrated. And honestly…jabbing and pinching is really out of line. The referees weren’t seeing it because my daughter didn’t have the ball when it was going on. So…what a pain in the butt to help my daughter figure out how to stand up for herself and not take any crap from these other girls…yet, when she does push back, she is the one “caught” and called for a foul. Oh…and thanks to that girl — she thinks that THIS is basketball.

6. And honestly, I guess it IS basketball, right? I have been around girls’ basketball all my life. I played it from 7th grade through high school. I watch the women’s college game and WNBA on tv and I see that it is a much more physical game than the mens’ game. So basically, the bullies in the game are the winners. Great.

7. I had a friend mention that maybe she’d have her kid play a city rec league as opposed to our Catholic school league because the examples of poor sportsmanship were so disappointing. My daughter loves her friends and loves playing for her school so I don’t think that’s an option for her, but I understand the consideration.

8. Are we Catholics really so bad at sportsmanship? Or…are we just like everyone else, but it’s so disappointing because we should be holding ourselves and each other up to a higher standard? It is this question that I grapple with any time I am disappointed with Catholic school, church, etc. I think there is definitely a large part of it that causes disappointment simply because as Christians, we should be treating each other better.

9. I’m happy the Helen loves basketball. Maybe I will try to get her some private coaching or a camp or two this summer so she grows in her skills a little faster this year. Of course, if she’d grow a few inches…that would probably help her the most, haha.

10. Basketball is a great game. I prefer to watch when one of my kids is not on the floor because the emotional investment is so great. I had a blast playing it. Watching my kids go through this stage has made me wonder if I was one of the bullies. Of course, I didn’t start playing until 7th grade, my coordination was pretty well-developed by then so maybe it didn’t have to be as physical. I don’t know.

Any experiences out there to share? Does it get any better as the girls get older? I remember in high school that our coach said, “If you’re getting pushed around…push back and do it hard…you get one foul to make sure they know you aren’t going to let them push you around.” I don’t even recall it being that much of a problem. 

But I am 41 years old now, I might not have the best recollection. Do boys’ teams even have to discuss this sort of thing? I wonder if my experience is unique to the league we play in or if I went around town to all sorts of girls’ basketball tournaments if I would see the same stuff.

Is it really better, though?



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2 thoughts on “Thoughts from a Mom with a Young Basketball Girl (A Mumbles Post – 79)”

  1. You're going to see bad sportsmanship no matter the age, no matter the sport. Rec leagues or elite, there are always those who simply play rough. However, this doesn't bother the ones with a passion for the sport (whichever sport) because the passion for playing trumps the idiot play of others.

    The ones with the passion will go farther in skill and farther in mental discipline. If your child develops into an elite player, she will (at some point) be coached on the mental aspect as much as the physical ones. There is a mindset that goes into sports. To advance means you have to have the capability to drown out the crowd, and to be self-motivated enough that other players will not take you off your game. Sports are as much mentally taxing as physically demanding, which is what most casual fans do not realize. Boys do not get off their game as easily as girls, because the wiring is different.

    Coaching styles and strategies are completely different between boys to girls, men to women. Some naturally have that pitbull edge to their personality, so they are easier to coach. At any level, all will need confidence building and the right kind of tailored coaching that helps them reach max potential, esp if they have a passion to take things to the collegiate (or higher) level.

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  2. I love that Helen is getting a chance to experience some sports, but it really stinks that so much of that experience is poor sportsmanship. It is amazing how far we've come in just a few years in terms of devaluing the human person. To me, poor sportsmanship and the like are just another sign that we do not see the true worth of ourselves and the people around us. And, yes, I agree that it's that much worse in the context of the Church!

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