How Basketball taught me Delayed Gratification


I played High School basketball and for a short period was coached under Eagle Rock High School legend scholar and gentleman, Coach William “Bill” Whiting, PhD. Coach Whiting taught us a lot about basketball, and more importantly, he also taught us a lot about life. I’m not sure if he’d remember who I am as there were far better athletes than myself, but I sure do remember him.

In particular, I remember one drill we use to practice to teach us “ball rotation” ie, good ball movement across the floor during games. When we would scrimmage against each other each team had to pass the ball a minimum of 7-10 times before any player could shoot the ball. This drill taught us a few things. In particular, it taught us :

  • PATIENCE: Far to often in basketball, as in life, we rush down the court only to “force” a shot that isn’t really there. By rotating the ball from player to player, it taught us to be patient, and to be mentally prepared for opportunities (passing lanes) to present themselves. Don’t confuse this with simply waiting. As the ball was being passed from one player to another, teammates would have to move around, often times break free from their defender, and set screens for other players. It wasn’t as if, the right moment simply appeared. We had to patient enough to create the right tempo and the right environment in order to strike. There will NEVER be the right time in your life to do a great thing. You have to create the right moment or opportunity as did we as children on the basketball court.
  • VISION: By passing a minimum of 7-10 times, it gave us a better perspective of where everybody was on the floor, and made us more open to recognizing passing opportunities or open players when they presented themselves. We were more likely to find the open man with an easier shot as opposed to focusing our efforts solely on making a basket. How often in life, do we miss opportunities we got so caught up with other things, like making a living? You’ve got to have the right mental vision.
  • SELFLESSNESS:  Rotating the ball taught us to be selfless. We were forced to put other teammates’ interests ahead of our own. What an amazing lesson. How many times has history taught us, that having one superstar player does not translate into a championship? It is, and always be, a team effort. As it is in life. If you help enough people get to where they want to go or be, you will get to where you want to go or be, by default.
  • DELAYED GRATIFICATION: After watching the ball get passed around 7-10 times, it’s easy to get impatient, especially if you lose the ball to a defender, because then you’ve got to start all over again. But the minute we’d score, there was a temporary sense of relief, even gratification. This lesson of delayed gratification had a huge impact on my life. Nothing EVER happens as fast as we want it to. PERIOD. Everything that is worth something is going to take effort. There is no way around it. Take solace in knowing, that anyone who has EVER accomplished anything, has had to experience the exact same thing. Remember that all a champion is, is a rookie that never quit.

In life, you’re going to have to “pass the ball” a minimum of 7-10 times before something extraordinary happens. Heck. It may even take 40-50 times. I don’t know what the magical number is for you. But I guarantee this, whatever that number is, you will come out “X” times stronger, better, and more evolved. So if it’s 40-50 times, expect to be 40X better than you used to be. I promise.

Enjoy the journey. #JoinTheCrusade