I have never fully appreciated how bad sport injuries can affect a player's or a team's momentum until I recently began helping with a local team as an assistant coach.
As an athlete, I never experienced an injury that kept me from playing or made playing painful, nor did I play with a team that was reduced by multiple injuries.
So, as I watch players being sidelined with an assortment of owies ranging from ankles to knees to shoulders, the cynic within emerges.
At times I wonder if injuries result in the same amount of attention that an athlete might receive from performing in a game, and thus the need to play is reduced.
I am struggling to decide if players are really injured versus just trying to avoid running that last ladder in practice.
All I know is that the missing players can devastate a team.
The entire flow of the rotation can be upset by a missing player, even if they are not the high team scorer or the defensive menace.
The player also misses out on new skills the team is learning in practice and the floor time that helps them improve.
I suppose I should get over the mentality that a player needs to be on crutches or have an ankle the size of a softball in order to be diagnosed as unable to play.
I definitely don't know what it feels like to tear an ACL, sprain an ankle or pull a muscle.
But I don't think a bruise or scratch qualifies as a reason to take it easy and spend the rest of the game on the bench.
I am sure the hardest lesson I will have to learn from this trial coaching run is to step back and not impose my own athletic experience on players.
Too many coaches are x-athletes who's playing days have become immortal.
I am sure that back in the day I was comparing my latest bruise and complaining about soreness, too.
In the end, they will have to decide on what level they want to push themselves. I can only teach the fundamental skills I know and let them take it where they will.