Jim Thompson: No Winners in Dallas' 100-0 Basketball Game

If you want to win, here is a sure-fire, guaranteed way to do so. Schedule your team against a really weak opponent.

In the wake of The Covenant School girls basketball team's 100-0 "win" over Dallas Academy, many have defended since-fired Covenant Coach Micah Grimes, asking what he could have done differently, because "it just isn't right to let the other team score."

My answer -- often shared in our Double-Goal Coach workshops, where we train coaches to win and teach life lessons -- is that there are many ways to make productive use of a blowout game. It all starts with preparation for a game against an obviously mismatched opponent. When coaches have an upcoming game against a strong opponent, we prepare our players for the challenges facing them. We tend to not do the same when we know we are facing a much weaker team.

But blow-out games provide as many teachable moments as do highly-contested ones. For example:

  • Don't try to build a comfortable lead and then let up. Start your substitutes even if it means a slower, less-stable advantage. Even if your team falls behind, your stronger players can then enter, challenged to play their best.
  • Start players in unfamiliar positions. Got a big center who doesn't dribble well? Have her bring the ball up. Let your smallish guards post up.
  • Have your players dribble with their weak hand. Caution them not to show up the opponent-have them dribble weak-handed without a big show.
These are ideas for basketball, but with some creativity and preparation, coaches can apply these to any sport. But let's look at the bigger picture, which a 100-0 game forces us to do. What exactly is the purpose of sports?

With the attention that winning big brings to coaches in the college and pro ranks it's easy for youth and high school coaches to forget that they are educators. Many, perhaps most, youth coaches imagine themselves, from time to time, coaching on the big stage.

But as much as youth sports resembles pro sports, they are fundamentally different. One is an entertainment business. The other is about educating kids. Or should be.

Everything that happens on the playing field is grist for the mill of the Double-Goal Coach. Win or lose, come through in the clutch or blow it, coaches who see themselves as character educators can make a life lesson out of it.

Sports soars when worthy opponents compete and it takes their best to win. Mismatches happen, so coaches must prepare their teams to play weak opponents with class, just as they prepare them to play tough opponents with determination.

Otherwise, why not schedule against a kindergarten team and go for 500 points?

-- Jim Thompson, Founder and Executive Director, Positive Coaching Alliance
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Positive Coaching Alliance (PCA) helps you become a Double-Goal Coach®, whose first goal is winning, and whose second, more-important goal is teaching life lessons through sports.

Similarly, PCA helps sports parents become Second-Goal Parents, focused on their children’s life lessons.

These tips, tools and techniques are just a sample of how Positive Coaching Alliance is transforming youth sports in partnership with hundreds of schools and youth sports organizations throughout the U.S.

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Jim Thompson: No Winners in Dallas' 100-0 Basketball Game
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