Bounce Back When It Counts

Image: © Sergey Nivens (

Life Is Basketball

We live in New England, but instead of cheering for the Boston Celtics, my son rocks a Cleveland Cavaliers jersey. At least that was the case until the Cavs traded his favorite player, Kyrie Irving, to the Celtics. Then again, since it is an Irving jersey, he still wears it while we cheer on The Green this season.

The truth is I will always root for his team, and he will for mine. That is what family is all about, or at least that is what I aspire to. I know many people are not as fortunate to have the mother-son bond we have. We laugh, we goof, but we have our serious moments too. I’m there to lift him up when he’s struggling, and even when I think I’ve put on a brave face, he knows to share an extra hug when I have a hard day.

When town basketball tryouts were approaching, we spent some time together on the court. He dribbles circles around me, but playing with the old lady is worth a laugh or two. After he made playful jabs for my underhand shot from the free throw line (he endearingly calls this a “diaper shot”), he offered me some sage advice.

“Mom, you can do things the easy way or the hard way, but you can’t be afraid to take the shot.”

When you think about it, life and basketball have a lot in common. Much like the ball, you will have your ups and downs. There will be people who will try to steal the ball from you, even foul you to get what they want. Every now and again, you will score a basket but sometimes you will miss. At end of the game, we all face a buzzer.

The trick is to play your best game.

Inflate Your Ball

Basketball is about coordination and strategy, offense and defense. For some people, that comes naturally, but for most of us, we have to work at it.

Dribbling, for example. The more precise you are in bouncing the ball, the easier it is to control. If you get sloppy, it slips away from you. Not only could you lose the ball, but your opponent could pick up where you left off, reaping the spoils.

Why should someone else score off your hard work?

Dribbling isn’t only about your skills in handling the basketball though. It is also about the quality of the ball itself. If the ball is not properly inflated, it isn’t going to bounce as high and it could even roll away. We do not want another “deflategate” on our hands. 

Yes, I know it’s the wrong sport, but the idea is the same.

My point is that you can work your tail off but if you do not allow yourself time to recharge, to keep your equipment in working order, you only make things harder on yourself. Sometimes, a time-out is necessary. Don’t hesitate to include some self-care in your routine, whatever that means to you.

To win the game of life, you need balance.

Bounce Back

You also need a strong foundation.

Try to dribble a basketball against a pillow. It is not going to bounce back at you. It will simply fall flat against the soft surface. Even the sound of the ball landing on the floor gets smothered. All that effort with little impact.

You need a firm ground to not only support the weight of the ball but to generate enough energy to spring it back into your hand. I am not implying that you should be rigid or hard, but you need to set the stage for what you want. You need to establish a framework on which to grow.

To play your best game, you need to know what it is you want. Then build, from the ground up, what it takes to get you there.

Who knew life was so much like basketball?

My son, the middle-school philosopher, teaches poignant life lessons without realizing it. He is simply honest and true. I am ever grateful for that. While we still have many more baskets to shoot together, he is the star on the town basketball team. I will be cheering him on the whole way. Both on and off the court, wearing the jersey of his choice.