ADVICEBURG: “Wannabe B-Baller in Bridgewater”



(Illustration: Will Maclachlan)

People often dream of living in a cooperative community. Well, Anne Macleod Weeks did for 40 years. As a teacher, dorm parent, guidance counselor, coach, principal, and advisor to faculty and parents in boarding schools, she pretty much experienced all that life can throw at you.  She welcomes your questions and concerns.

Submit your questions for Anne at thebarnacle.ca/advice and receive guidance in next month’s Barnacle!

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Dear Anne,

I’m a man who wants to start playing basketball, but here’s the thing, I don’t really know the rules and have no experience.

I see there are some pickup games in nearby communities, and I want to show up because I started having fun shooting free throws at my local net for fitness and now I want to really play basketball. But I don’t know anyone who’s already going to these pickup games, so I’m challenged by the level of experience these guys might be expecting.

I’m self conscious to show up among strangers who already know each other and admit I need help learning how to play basketball in the first place.

I watched some YouTube videos about rules in basketball but it seems like there’s a lot to learn and it’s the kind of thing you have to learn by doing. I’m intimidated by the idea of trying to use my “pivot foot” to turn around while I have the ball and then accidentally getting called out for traveling and having to keep slowing down the game to ask why, things like that.

I feel like maybe I should just show up and act confident and if I get called out on breaking any rules or not doing well overall I just say “that’s how I learned how to play” and adapt from there. But also, maybe I should be more honest about my lack of experience and see if a group will take me on as an adult basketball apprentice of sorts.

How do you think I should approach the world of basketball?

– Wannabe B-Baller in Bridgewater

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Dear Wannabe B-Baller,

First, I want to celebrate your desire to learn something new as an adult. Too often we settle into a predictable routine as we age. How dull is that?! 

There is certainly the intimidation factor when learning a new sport and presenting yourself to a bunch of strangers who are already playing together. I know this first hand from when I first started playing pickleball. One thing I learned, though, is there is always at least one person who remembers what it was like to be new, and that person will usually reach out to support and mentor you. 

So, how do you find that person? There are three approaches you might consider:

  1. Look up who is the supervisor or lead with the pick-up program. For instance, Lunenburg County has a pick-up game on Tuesday nights at Bayview Community School, and the rec department lists the supervisor as Steve Goode. You could get his contact info, introduce yourself ahead of time as a new player, and ask him to be your introduction to others. 
  2. You could choose a pick-up game program to observe. If you go to watch, someone is sure to ask you about playing, which will give you the chance to say, “I haven’t played, but I am interested, and I thought I could learn by watching before trying to play.” 
  3. The other possibility is to find an “open gym” time. I know there’s one at the Town of Lunenburg Community Centre on Tuesdays from 9:00-11:30. Not a great time if you work, but there are probably other open gym times around the county. This might introduce you to another person shooting hoops, which could then lead to a connection for a pick-up game.

If you are willing to travel, Halifax Plays has rec leagues where newbies are encouraged to join. If you are really self-conscious, this might be a great way to get your feet wet before joining an established pick-up group on the South Shore. 

I wish you luck in your journey to effective pivots and to sinking clean shots. Have faith in yourself!

Anne

PS: If you get the chance, read about the young Bill Bradley of NY Knicks fame. He’s an inspiration.


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