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Basketball, Life and God

(A little Bible study for men and boys in the Family Life Center gymnasium. Demonstrations by players and novices alike.)

The Ball 1 Corinthians 15:45

  • The ball is dead without air. God breathed life into you.
  • The ball is resilient. It bounces. You are built to take life’s challenges.
  • The ball represents your life. It is in your hands. You make the decisions.
  • Handling the ball carelessly or making bad decisions will hurt your game.

The Goal Philippians 3:13-14

· The goal is ten feet off the floor. High enough to be a challenge, but low enough to be doable.

· Most people can’t touch the rim. It takes work. Learn to jump. The higher you jump, the closer you can get to the rim. (See Lucky Break)

The Court Revelation 20:12

  • The court has boundaries. You must play within the lines.
  • You cannot move the lines according to your size, shape or speed.
  • You are judged by the lines, regardless of how you feel about them.



  • Shooting
    • There are proper techniques in shooting the basketball.
    • Your entire body is involved in the act of shooting.
    • Hand-eye coordination is critical to shooting. Keep your eyes on the goal.
    • How you shoot depends on how far you are from the goal. Heb. 12:2
  • Dribbling
    • Keep it going.
    • Learn to dribble with both hands.
  • Rebounding
    • Anticipate where the ball is going.
    • Rebounding is important on both offense and defense.
    • Remember, you have to rebound from adversity in life.
        • (Rick Patino: Lost infant son, lost bro-inlaw to traffic acc., lost 2nd bro-inlaw in 9/11 WTC, 3 seasons of losses as coach of Boston Celtics.)
  • Passing
    • If you don’t pass, you will get trapped.
    • Learn to pass correctly.
    • Learn to pass safely. Poor passing results in most steals.
    • Passing is sharing and communication.



  • Double-dribble, walking, carrying the ball, stepping out of bounds, etc.
  • Without rules, the game becomes a free-for-all.
  • Rules accents a player’s skills and understanding of how the game is played.
  • Referees are on hand to call and enforce infractions.
  • Never resent correction. It makes the game possible to play. (A T story)

Fouls and Penalties

  • Bumping, reaching in, blocking, charging, unsportsmanlike conduct, etc.
  • God will not overlook bad behavior.
  • Fouls hurt the team.


Plays and Strategy

  • You have to have a play in mind when you have possession of the ball.
  • Designing plays depends upon who is on the floor, your opponent, and the status of the game.
  • Your strategy is mainly determined by the score and the time remaining.
  • Free throws enter into a winning strategy. (See A. C. Green, “Stepping Out.”)

Your Team

  • Cooperation/Coordination. You have to learn to work with your teammates.
  • Assists. You may be more effective by passing the ball then by shooting.
  • Ball Hogging. You are not the only player on the team. Learn to share.


Your Opponent

  • If you had no opponent, there would be little challenge to the game.
  • Satan will always be between you and your goal.
  • Defending. You must defend against the actions of your opponent.
  • Out-smarting. You must learn to think ahead and around your opponent.



Lucky Break
Theme of the Week: Look for That Silver Lining
Monday, July 9, 2007

Key Bible Verse: We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they are good for us (Romans 5:3).Bonus Reading: Romans 5:2-5

In high school I’d tried for years to dunk a basketball. It was my holy grail. Ironically, it took a broken ankle for me to first achieve that goal.

As a sophomore, I was just running down the court in one of our drills, and tripped over a line on the floor. I spent the next month in a cast, and remember questioning God. After all, He could have kept it from happening.

Here’s what did happen. That semester my classes seemed to alternate between the top and bottom floors of our three-floor high school. So after every period I was hopping up and down flights of stairs like a human pogo stick. When you’re injured in one place, you’ve got to draw more strength from somewhere else. In a process called remodeling, my right leg grew stronger to compensate for my broken left ankle. The brokenness actually increased my capacity. I dunked my first basketball while wearing a cast!

Like a broken bone that needs to be reset, God breaks us where we need to be broken. He fractures the pride and lust and anger in our lives, but He does it to remodel us into His image. And once we heal, we end up stronger than we were to begin with.

Stepping Out
Goal to Go
Wednesday, April 26, 2000

Key Bible Verse: Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Jesus Christ (Philippians 1:6). Bonus Reading: Hebrews 5:12-14; 6:1-2

Confidence only comes through tasting victory. To get confident, you have to set some kind of goal. My goal at OSU [Oregon State University] the day I got to campus was just to have the courage to play with those guys. When I reached that goal, my confidence grew. Then I could set another goal: to play them and actually score one time.

Maybe a goal for a young basketball player is to make 10 free throws in a row. When you try and you make eight, that gives you a sense that you can eventually accomplish what you set out to do. Maybe a goal for a new Christian isn’t to win 10 people to Christ in one day, but to admit to just one person that you’ve become a Christian.

If you don’t set goals, you can’t possible reach them, because even if you get there, you won’t know it. So set goals. Take practical steps to reach them, little steps of faith, courage and boldness. Face the challenge head-on. If you want to memorize a Scripture verse or a series of verses, go at it. It’s a step, and that builds confidence.

—A. C. Green in Victory

A T for the Tongue
Theme of the Week: Down with Putdowns
Monday, March 12, 2007

Key Bible Verse: Those who control their tongue will have a long life; a quick retort can ruin everything (Proverbs 13:3). Bonus Reading: Proverbs 15:28 21:23; 29:20; Psalm 141:3

As a young basketball coach I had a short fuse, especially when it came to dealing with men in stripes. It was hard keeping my mouth shut, and I often said things that got me in trouble. One game in particular, I thought my team was being treated unfairly and was quick to point it out. Late in the game, I stood up and yelled, “What?!” It was only one word, but the officials had heard enough. I got a technical foul that cost my team the game.

Controlling the tongue is a problem for many coaches and athletes. Many times, we create more problems with our mouths than with our actions. Why? In my case, it was because I wouldn’t think before I spoke.

Why does God want us to keep our tongues in check? When we speak before thinking, we usually do not honor Him with our speech. He would much rather we say nothing at all than speak too quickly.

It’s the most difficult thing in the world to tame the tongue, but God’s Spirit living in us through the work of Jesus can help us think before we speak—even in the midst of challenging situations!

—Jere Johnson in Heart of a Coach


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