‘The first five’


You can lose a game in the first five minutes, but you can’t win a game in the first five minutes. This is what I would call a “coaching cliché.”

Basically, this means that your team needs to get off to a good start and if you don’t it will be an uphill battle when trying to win. It also means that even if you get off to a good start don’t relax because it doesn’t mean that it will be easy the rest of the game.

I heard this in every locker room I was a part of over my 20 years of college basketball. And like some maxims, it’s not always true. (As a young player, I remember some teammates and me having a “venting session” about our coaches and discovering that according to the maxim, if the opposing team “loses” in the first five minutes, and you win then technically you win the game in the first five minutes! Clearly my teammates and I missed our calling to be philosophers). Sometimes players and coaches just need to have time away from each other.

Recently it began bouncing around my head again. The source of my thoughts came from my dishwasher. (You read it right). Anyone with kids knows that the dishwasher and laundry must always be running because kids are always making things dirty. As such, getting started in the “first five minutes” of my day is essential with my current team too.

I always went into the games I coached with a plan on what I wanted to accomplish early in the game. It may have been to get Wisconsin into a ball screen early to see how they were going to guard two-time Horizon League Player of the Year Keifer Sykes. Maybe we wanted to make sure our 7-foot NBA Draft Pick, Alec Brown, had a play ran for him to get an early scoring opportunity.

Consider the start of your day as the start of a game. Things need to get accomplished in order to have a successful day.

When I get my team (ages 7, 5, 3) ready in the morning it involves waking, changing, brushing, feeding, packing and leaving. Usually there is another costume change involved for one of them since “yoke eggs” always find a way from their chins to their shirts.

During the feeding portion of this process is when things often go haywire.

My dilemma occurs as I get the eggs and sausage ready to be plated, but there are no plates in the cabinet! TURNOVER. Not having plates ready is one small mole hill, but it has a chance of turning into a mountain!

This is where my game plan needs an early timeout to adjust. Are there clean dishes in the dishwasher? That will lead to a quick egg and sausage plating (which can help with a more timely feeding, packing and leaving.) But, it really is a lose-lose situation inside that dishwasher. If there are clean dishes in the dishwasher, it also means taking time to empty it.

We all have pet peeves. Having to empty the dishwasher first thing in the morning is one of mine. Even more annoying is when the dishwasher is open and not emptied. This means that someone on my team or staff (my wife) has knowingly opened the dishwasher to retrieve a clean glass, bowl, or fork and did not empty it themselves.

Of course, the other scenario involves the dishwasher filled with dirty dishes. This means something needs to be washed in order to feed my team. The extra task may only add a minute or two, but in those few minutes you never know what can happen with my team. There are times when I am washing the plates and I feel like a team just went on a 12-0 run against me. Juice is spilled, hair is pulled, and sometimes one of my kids is back in bed or “benched” on a timeout.

Sometimes the sight of a full dishwasher is agitating enough to start my day off in a negative way. It sounds a little ridiculous, but think to yourself of the little things that sometimes can derail a day or a game. They happen. Does a full dishwasher ruin my day? No it doesn’t. It does however sometimes ruin my first five minutes and if my coaches have been telling me the truth I could lose the day because of it.

I had a high school friend visit me recently and I shared my dishwasher dilemma with him and his wife. We laughed about it because it is somewhat ridiculous, but also because they have kids the same age. They understood that simple tasks can turn into stupid scenarios.

I shared that I now stay up later to empty the dishwasher before bed. It is part of my game plan to start my day off on the right foot. There are so many variables that can affect the start of your day or start of a game. It is important to control what you can control in order to be able to handle positively what you cannot control.

Recently, my friend told me that they now unload their dishes at night. I am not quite Tony Robbins, but my game plan has at least spread to Texas! I am not sure if parents of young children ever truly win a day, but it is nice to start a game off giving yourself a chance to at least push it into overtime.

Brian Barone played basketball at Texas A&M University and Marquette University and holds a master’s degree in communications. He now coaches men’s basketball at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville.


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