I had put a lot of work into my game and I thought everything should be perfect. Thirty thousand shots and with everyone a little drop of sweat as a symbol of hard work. I had high expectations that I should make every shot I took or it was a wasted possession and I thought about it as the equivalence to a turnover. A well rounded team with high expectations for the year. Everyone was excited for the season to start.
The first practice I was very ambitious to get back out on the court with my buddies. Practice got into a rhythm and everyone was having fun, except I was getting frustrated with myself. My name was called by a loud and deep voice and I immediately turned and ran towards it. Coach said, “forget about missed shots and mistakes and move on.” The rest of practice I tried to just forget about mistakes and have fun, but most importantly work hard to prepare for the first game.
After a couple of weeks it was finally game day. This wasn’t just any game, it was a game against our biggest rivals in the conference. The game started off with warm ups and butterflies in my stomach. I tried to remember what coach told me, “forget about missed shots and mistakes and move on.” The game started off fast and I passed up a lot of shots not wanting to make any mistakes. I finally took my first shot of the year as it felt like an eternity for the ball to reach the hoop and only to see the ball hit the rim with a thud. I ran back on defense with my head down when my team needed me to be a team player and play defense. My guy scorched right by me for an easy layup. A loud tweet of a whistle like a bird in the morning,”timeout.”
Timeouts were usually for setting up a new game plan, but this was not the case as coach told me, “do the best you can do and the game will come to you.” I tried not to remember mistakes and missed shots, but I couldn’t forget. Before I knew it coach had taken me out of the game and I found myself cheering on my teammates like a leader of the team should. The coach came over to me and clapped twice in my face and pointed to the scorers table to go back in.
Shortly after I went back into the game half-time rolled around like a thunderstorm rumbling and coach told us to, “get your heads in the game and move on from mistakes.” The pep talk ended and coach held me back until the team left the locker room and clapped twice again, but this time he told me, “two claps after you make a mistake and those two claps mean you have moved on.” We went out of the locker room and went to the bench where all my teammates were sitting and talking loudly and then the loud voices soon turned to mumbles.
Breaking the huddle are team has the advantage as we come out with confidence and swagger. Everyone is excited as we jump to an early lead and the other team looks like a fish without water; panicking and not knowing what to do as we dominated them. I finally realized I was having fun even after making a mistake because I heard a voice in the back of my head, “two claps”, every time I made a mistake. Mistakes became far and few as the two claps had now helped me and I wasn’t remembering what was in the past, but now I was just playing in the present.
The rest of the game flew by as we ended up beating one of the best teams in the conference because of two claps and not playing in the past. I made the big step of becoming a leader and helping guide my team to a win. I had done it and the team had done it as the celebration continued. Coach congratulated us and said, “get out of here and enjoy the big win”, and then he clapped twice and glanced at me telling me to break us out , “team on three, one, two, three, team”.
Even after putting in so much work I can’t be perfect no matter how much work and time I dedicate to get better, all I can do is clap twice and move on to the next play. Play in the present not the past as I came to remember the words from the coach. Playing in the past will only hurt my ability as a leader and a player. I finally recognized how much of a better player I could’ve been if I just would've done something so simple as two claps. Two claps and the team playing in the present not the past was the big golden key to success.