The physical sport of basketball is genius, but even more underappreciated is the universality of the game. Basketball is a powerful tool that can be used in everyday life even by people who don’t play. One of its real life applications is in parenting. If you’re like my wife and I, whose goals are to raise kind, curious, and resilient kids, then here are 3 basketball analogies to help guide you.
How Basketball Applies to Parenting
These 3 prevailing basketball philosophies come to us from the San Antonio Spurs, the Golden State Warriors, and Shea Serrano, but all parents can put them into use.
1) Pounding the Rock
The phrase “Pounding the Rock” comes from a book by Jacob Riis, and it’s been internalized by the entire San Antonio Spurs organization for more than 10 years. It’s a mantra and mindset that the players, coaching staff, front office, and every Spurs employee applies into everything they do. It goes like this:
“When nothing seems to help, I go look at a stonecutter hammering away at his rock, perhaps a hundred times without as much as a crack showing in it. Yet at the hundred and first blow it will split in two, and I know it was not that blow that did it, but all that had gone before.”
This short story can be used by any parent as a meaningful tool for helping a child persevere, whether it’s through challenges faced in outdoor sports, school, career, or daily life.
2) Strength in Numbers
This is the overarching philosophy of the Golden State Warriors organization, inspired by Coach Steve Kerr. Like the Spurs, they print their mantra in every part of the building. You even see it on the gold and blue t-shirts that every fan struts in playoff games.
Strength in numbers means it’s about everyone, equally. It’s about sticking together no matter how differently everyone thinks and lives. And it’s about every single person having an important responsibility that only they can be the best at.
“Nothing is more consistent with the Warriors since Steve (Kerr) has gotten here than ‘Strength in Numbers.’ He lives it. He preaches it. I think, in the locker room and beyond, it’s what we do.”
– Warriors President Rick Welts on the team’s mentality in 2016, which is still in effect after winning a total of 3 NBA championships in 4 years.
If Ziya, our daughter, ever takes up a sport, she’ll quickly realize that she’ll have to do certain things very well herself. Ultimately though, she’ll realize that camaraderie and chemistry are going to be the key traits to success as a team player.
3) Shoot Your Shot
“Shoot your shot” is the basketball equivalent of “take chances, make mistakes.” This could mean interviewing for a job opportunity you’re not totally qualified for, or moving to a different part of the world – anything that requires just a little bit of courage and aloofness to step outside of your norm and into a zone of potential embarrassment or failure.
When a kid comes across situations in which they’re on the fence about, always encourage them to shoot. Unapologetically. On the basketball court, one lesson you learn in shooting is that if you’re going to shoot, you have to let it fly. No hesitation, no apologies – only full confidence that make or miss, you were right to take the open shot.
(Shout out to Shea Serrano for always inspiring his Twitter Followers to shoot their shot).
Life is long. The small, medium, and lifetime opportunities you’ll come across on a daily basis literally add up to hundreds and thousands of shots you can possibly take. So my advice to our child is to take as many of those as possible, and not focus on nailing every shot.
Like the skill of shooting in basketball takes time to master, so does the skill of shooting your shot in all other areas. The more you take them, the better you get at them, the more confident you feel taking them, and the more you end up scoring.
What advice can you share to help raise kind, curious, and resilient children? Let us know in a comment below.
Post Author: Raj Shah is a senior manager at TakeLessons Live, an EdTech company that gives lifelong learners access to online music and language classes, as well as private lessons.