Monday, November 9, 2009

A sporting chance

Let me just say from the get go that I know nothing about sport, with the exception of Tiddly Winks, nor have I ever coached anyone to play any kind of sport, which is probably just as well.

That said, I would guess that being a coach is akin to being a teacher, but I’m happy to be corrected on that score. I have the opportunity to observe a coach working as we walk along the edge of the fence that surrounds the playing field, towards the dog park. Although we walk along a clearly delineated path, I have each boys’ hand in one of mine, just in case a squirrel or some other distraction might prove too much of a temptation - the traffic flow in the road is exceptionally busy.

Different groups play different games, some near a soccer goal, some near basket ball hoops others on the asphalt track. As we walk we see the coach, a tall middle aged man who sports a baseball cap, reversed, on his balding skull. He has a very loud voice which is probably an asset in an open field. People of diminished stature are in his care. I would guess that they spread over the age range of 5 to 7. They are all kitted out in similar attire which makes them easier to spot as a group.

There are lots of balls and lots of running and lots of shouting, although only the coach performs the vocals. There are lots of instructions. None of them make any sense, but of course they wouldn’t make any sense because we are ignorant of all sports, American and otherwise. The coach is displeased with his charges performance. Despite all his incomprehensible instructions, the children, individually, continue to flail about the field like headless chickens, but I suspect it’s a team sport. We can all tell that the coach is angry, not just because of his voice but because of his stance. He is very good at hand gestures too, exceptionally so - we all know that whatever it is that they’re supposed to be doing, they’re not doing it.

The coach’s cap comes off his head numerous times because he is exasperated - he copes by rubbing the skin raw on his pate. Each time he removes his cap his voice edges up a few marks on the Richter scale, but we’re none the wiser as to his message. For me, fear is a great motivator. It would appear that his team are similarly motivated albeit unsuccessfully. In a final burst of desperation he yells again, repeats a whole stream of instructions. One new small phrase, bubbles up amidst the torrent, “only move when the ball moves.” A current of comprehension courses through the collective – they are back on track.

What a pity he didn’t say that first.

Now, if anyone ever gives me a pointy ball to hold, I shall know exactly what to do, although I can’t imagine how to throw one through the netted hoop?


Jazz said...

In theory I know what to do with the ball, in practice I'm a total spaz.

Stacy said...

Too funny! I think some children coaches are a bit lacking in patience. Those little kids need very elementary instructions. They don't understand the "jargon"

Expat mum said...

Aawww. I always laugh at the little ones playing t-ball. It's a miracle if they can get them all facing in the same direction!

Jocelyn said...

At least you can claim "foreigner-ism" as an excuse. I'm just ignorant of my own culture. I'm pretty sure you're supposed to kiss the puck before you whack it with the tennis racket, though.

Whitenoise said...

it's all in good fun though, eh?