Coaching Kids: “Little White Lies Aren’t All That Bad”

BasketballPostWhite lies aren’t terrible. Sometimes, they’re needed to make a friend feel better or to diffuse tension until a problem is solved. Other times, they are hilarious.

When I was 18, I was in my first year of coaching basketball. My girls were 11-years-old. Since I’ve always been in love with the sport, I never really remember my 11-year-old self testing coaches to see how much I could get away with. I just did what I was told.

The girls who played for me, however, were conniving and cunning. They knew what little white lies to tell in order to get out of sprints.

“Abby, my ankle hurts.”

“Coach, I can’t breathe.”

Or the always frightening crying sessions.

These girls were young so I didn’t want them to get hurt. While I noticed these injuries always coincided with my dreaded sprints, the policy was if you claim you’re hurt I’d give you the benefit of the doubt. The maimed child would sit on the bench with ice and water while the rest of the team sprinted (briskly walked). Miraculously they could always join in on the next, more fun, drills. Only once did I question an injury.

“Abby, my face is tingling.”

“WHAT!?”

Lillian repeated her bold statement. Her face was tingling. What the heck am I supposed to do with that? I responded with the only thing I knew from my lack of medical expertise:

“Uh, go wash your face?”

Lillian sat on the bench all smiles while the rest of the team shuffled the length of the gym. I just lost a real-life version of Are You Smarter Than A 5th Grader? I couldn’t let her get away with this. I had to prove I was at least at a 6th grade level of thinking.

Everyone knew Knock Out was Lillian’s favorite game. Let’s be honest, all people love Knock Out. It’s one of the top things everyone can agree is awesome. It lies just before Fluffernutter sandwiches but after cat videos.  Anyways, I decide to test just how dedicated she was to her story.

“Alright everyone, you’ve done a really great job at practice today. I think we all need to have a fun break. How about we play Knock Out?”

Thunderous applause. The girls screech so loud they nearly shatter the windows from pure excitement. Everyone lines up at the foul line… even Lillian.

“What are you doing, Lill?”

“Oh, I’m totally okay now!”

“No, no, no Lillian. Your FACE is tingling. I don’t want to take any chances. You should probably sit this one out.”

The rest of the team watched quietly as Lillian sauntered over to the bench, plopped herself down, and sighed continuously while the other girls giggled over the drill

Was it evil? No doubt in my mind. Was it NECESSARY?  No. She was 11, and I was a legal adult. I should let that stuff go. For some reason I just couldn’t. When another player finally won the game, I asked Lillian if she was feeling any better. After she nodded I lined all the girls up for another round of sprints (insert maniacal laugh here).

Since that incident I never had another girl confess to an injury before running drills again. Moral of the story: create BELIEVABLE white lies. They’re easier to follow through on.

(PS – At the end of practice we played another round of Knock Out. I’m kind of a softie like that.)

(photo of basketball courtesy of sippakorn/ freedigitalphotos.com)

Abby Smith About Abby Smith

Abby Smith is a ginger lady born and raised in The Shire (New Hampshire that is). She now lives in Los Angeles and spends her days burning in the sun and wishing southern California got more snow. If she had a cow she would name it Moolan. You can follow her on Twitter @ReddHede or on Tumblr at aellensmith.tumblr.com

Abby Smith About Abby Smith

Abby Smith is a ginger lady born and raised in The Shire (New Hampshire that is). She now lives in Los Angeles and spends her days burning in the sun and wishing southern California got more snow. If she had a cow she would name it Moolan. You can follow her on Twitter @ReddHede or on Tumblr at aellensmith.tumblr.com

  • TheBigMilkshake

    Ah kids. Can’t live with em. Can’t live without em. Can’t sell em.

  • Bob

    Love the story. Reminds me of my coaching days.

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