Defeating the Pregame Butterflies

Tomorrow, my team (the Liberty Blue Jays) finally gets to play in our first game of the season as we take on North Kansas City.  I really love this time of year.  The excitement of the crowd, the enthusiasm of the players, and the “butterflies in the stomach” feeling we coaches get before we lead our team out onto the floor makes me really cherish the job I have.


Getting ready for a game can be pretty intense at times and definitely nerve-racking.  As a coach, you prepare all season to get your players ready to perform at the highest level possible, so it’s hard not to stress out about the possibility that they won’t perform up to your expectations.

The fact is, however, that the players are going to make mistakes.  They’re going to miss some shots, turn the ball over, blow some defensive assignments, and may even have to lose a few games as a result of those errors.

With this in mind, it’s important for me as a coach to realize that mistakes happen and there’s only so much you can do to prevent them from happening.  In fact, instead of focusing on not making mistakes, I’ve learned that we need to embrace the fact we’re going to make mistakes and go out there with the confidence that we need to be aggressive and make plays–even if we fail at times.

As a coach this is the mindset I want my team to take:  to cast aside the fear of failure and control the controllable.

Controlling the controllable means we don’t worry about the things that are out of our hands (what the refs call, what the fans are saying, what the other team does, etc.) and instead, focus on doing the things that are under our control (being focused, playing with 100% hustle, making the smart play, etc.).  This makes the game simpler for our players and allows them to play relaxed and focused on doing the things they can do to the best of their abilities.

Like with so many things in sports, I can’t help but recognize how this philosophy carries over from the basketball court to real life.  In life, sometimes things happen that we can’t control (actions of others, unexpected losses, personal disappointments, etc.), and it’s easy for us to focus so much of our time and energy on those things that it can drive us crazy!

Thankfully, I’ve discovered (again from experience) that if I focus on controlling the controllable (my response to the uncontrollable, my attitude, my commitment to my faith, my work ethic, etc.), I’m far more productive, happy, and effective in achieving my God-given potential than I am when I’m doing otherwise.

So if you’re someone who’s stressed out this holiday season, or maybe someone who’s been hurt by someone close to you or overwhelmed by a circumstance, I want to encourage you to step back and think about what are the things you can control in those situations and what are the things you can’t?

My prayer would be that you’d then consider focusing on controlling the controllable to the best of your abilities and trust the rest to God, who controls all things according to His holy and perfect will.


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