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Give the big kids a turn to learn, under your coaching
Give the big kids a turn to learn, under your coaching
April 17, 2015 7:00 AM CDT

It ain’t over ‘til the Big Kid scores

Full Contact Project Management


A Little League basketball game in which my grandson was playing got me thinking. Like any team, it had some really good players, some mediocre players, and some not-so-good players. In this league, every kid has to play at least half the game, which is fine in practice and during the regular season. During playoffs, though, not so much! The rule gives coaches fits, but they abide by it. Everybody agrees that it’s worthwhile.

I’ll give my own “amen” to that rule, because I was sometimes the not-so-good Little League baseball player who knew what it was like to sit on the bench for an entire game, even though I went to all the practices. So I do appreciate the rule.

The concept of “everybody plays” can be really foreign. But I saw the wisdom of it, once I was a parent and had a child in kid’s soccer. I watched how my son’s two coaches, Lupe and Judie (a husband-and-wife team), took that rule at face value; taught those little kids well; and assured they all played in every game. And at the end of the season, every parent there was absolutely amazed by how all the kids had improved their skills – and had fun.

Let’s talk about your team – that crew of yours that you put out on the field. You make a coaching decision every day. Do you put your “rookies” into your starting lineup, at least on occasion, or do you leave them on the sidelines? I’m a big fan of paying your dues, but an even bigger fan of getting a turn at bat. Because the only way that bench warmer is going to learn how to play is to play. That means you’ve pretty much got to let him get into the game. And that also means that you have to be willing to let him strike out, fail, miss the ball, and fumble the catch.

And the trick to improving your team is to let those hopeful masons have a chance to get out there on the field and make some mistakes – under the watchful eyes of your good people. It’s often said that the best way to learn is to fail. But fail fast, and when you can, learn quickly.

It’s like some kind of a cosmic law: As a baseball player, even I got a little better after a few years and could eventually make an occasional play. For anyone, when you think about it, that is a tremendous feeling, if not an amazing accomplishment.

The Big Kid

This all brings us back to the Big Kid on the basketball court. I’ve got to give him respect. He played last year and then again this year. He was probably about 50 percent heavier than any kid on his team. But he practiced. He got a little better. As big as he was, he willed himself to move faster, and made some plays defensively. And he learned to shoot. To be sure, he never took any jump shots. He didn’t have to, because he was a full head taller than the other kids.

What he found out was that he was a pretty darn good shooter when he stood near the basket. And, he could stand there, because he was too big for anybody to move him.

Well, this playoff game was straight out of the movie “Hoosiers.” Even though our team was ceded last in the playoffs, it somehow made it to the finals and played a heck of a game. And the Big Kid, last in abilities but not in heart, actually made the final basket in the game, which sealed the win. The game was not over until the Big Kid scored.

In 2015, look around at your bench. Give the big kids a turn to learn, under your coaching. They’ll improve. Your team will be the better for it. Chances are that it won’t even take them 10,000 shots before they figure it out.

About the Author

Gary Micheloni is a working project manager, speaker, author, consultant and coach. He has severals years of industry experience, including a background as a licensed general engineering contractor. For further information and insight on the Full Contact Project Management approach, write Coach Gary at


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