What I Learned from Coaching My Son’s Basketball Team

Recently, I finished being the “head coach” for my son’s basketball team. I place head coach in quotes because while I was the coach, I had lots of help, and it was less coaching and more like being the head encourager. I had the joy and privilege of coaching nine five-year-olds for an eight-game season. I initially hesitated to say yes because I grew up playing sports my whole life and tend to be very competitive. Furthermore, I was more interested in being a dad than a coach. But the need was there, and I knew I could teach them the fundamentals of the game. I knew I had made the right decision when my son told me one day (unpromoted), “Dad, I’m glad you are my coach.” Is someone cutting onions?

I was asked what my coaching philosophy was, and I organized my thoughts using the acrostic “F.U.N.” Our desire was for the kids to learn the fundamentals of the game (how to dribble, shoot, pass, etc.), understand the game (what is offense, defense, the various perimeters, etc.), and to notice this is team game, and that God loves everyone on this team.

At least four things stood out to me about watching the kids learn and play basketball during our time together as a team.


It’s incredible how much energy a five-year-old has at 9:00 am. Mostly, they would come in the door wired, and many left wired. They were restless in the moments they were supposed to be still and listen, shot up and down the court, and even ran hard to their water bottles when they were tired from the game. The energy in kids reminds us of the joy life brings. David reminds us in Psalm 16:11 that God “reveals the path of life to me; in your presence is abundant joy.”


Proverbs 15:13a tells us, “A joyful heart makes a face cheerful.” It’s great watching a kid score for the first time or the joy on their face when you tell them they would be the one dribbling the ball up the court. They loved giving high-fives, yelling “Go Rhinos” on the count of three, and randomly hugging you at half-court. Even in moments of disappointment, their expressions showed they cared and desired affirmation from me as a coach and their parents, grandparents, etc.


Watching the kids “figure” things out was enjoyable to watch. Many of the kids had never picked up a basketball. They were awkward in handling, shooting, and passing the ball. On several occasions, they would forget who they were guarding or what they were supposed to be doing. But they were curious. They wanted to learn more and do better. Our team improved a lot over the season. Psalm 32:8 reads, “I will instruct you and show you the way to go; with my eye on you, I will give counsel.” We wanted them to learn the game of basketball, but more than that, we desired for them to learn and grow all around in the short time we had them.


We live in a world full of craziness, and it’s refreshing to see kids who love to play, laugh, tell jokes (I never quite knew what would come out of their mouths), work hard, and get better. When you are around nine five-year-olds trying to get them to do the same thing, it can be humorous at several moments. But you are so encouraged by what you see. It also reminds you of the encouragement community brings. This season made me recall 1 Thessalonians 5:11, when Paul taught believers to “encourage one another and build each other up as you are already doing.” The whole process greatly encouraged me as a dad, coach, and fan of what sports can do for a person.

It was a blessing to coach my son’s team, and I look forward to doing it again someday soon.