Leave It All on the Court



“How do you think you played today?” I ask my son as we drive home from his first basketball game of the season.

“I didn’t feel it. I wasn’t in the flow and Coach. He’s always all over me,” he responds.

“I think he is all over you because you have the confidence to take it and the playing ability to back it up. However, I noticed he didn’t play you that much today. Last year, you played much more. Why is that?”

“I’m not sure,” is the reply and then silence.   I can feel the mental wheels churning beside me.

“I’m not really pushing it in practice…” he starts and then pauses.

Ahh…here we go. Here lies the answer.

“Why not? It’s your 8th grade year. You should be giving it your all while you’re at this school. You’re at the highest grade here – you have nothing to lose. You should leave it ALL on the court during every practice and every game. Why not go for it?”

We talk about it for a few minutes and he decides that he will give it everything he has and see where it takes him.

Fast forward a few games and he is playing his heart out and doing a great job. Historically, he is consistent at offense, particularly with the 3-pointers, but this year has added an aggressive defense to his game. Hooray for him. I think he will be happy at the end of the season when he knows he has given it his all.

Blissfully unaware, the comment “You should leave it ALL on the court” hovers around me for a few weeks.

I continue forth in my ignorance.

This morning, however, the comment smacks me right in the face.

Of course – why of course it does.

I am at the gym in the middle of 40-lb tricep pushdowns, in a hold position between sets, and I am flagging. There is no reason. I’m just flagging and the comment comes up and SMACK. There it is.

“Leave it ALL on the court.”


The mental excuses run rampant through my head. I am tired. I am old. It’s January. It’s cold outside. Did I mention I am old?

What does any of this have to do with my ability to hold a 40-lb tricep push down?

I will tell you – nothing, absolutely nothing.

So I push through them and think about the comment, “Leave it ALL on the court.”

I look up at one of the walls at the gym and see the quote:

“There are only two options: make progress or make excuses.” – Unknown

Double Crap. That’s just another way of saying the same thing.

I know just where this is going. This is going to HAVE to be my mantra for the next several weeks.

Crap. Crap. Crap.

It is January. It is cold outside. It’s…okay, enough with the excuses. Here we go.

Leave it ALL on the court.

I think about this for a few hours as I am trying to find a way around it. I try to forget it. I haven’t said anything to anyone, so perhaps it will just go away.

Nope. It doesn’t. It sticks with me and keeps entering my thoughts throughout the day.

I contemplate it as I am driving around town taking the children to and fro. I’m not sure if it’s a Catholic guilt thing, but I IMMEDIATELY go to all of the tedious things I need to do – diet, exercise, clean out the closets, office, do the taxes. Yuck, just yuck. I know these are on my to do list, but do I really need to make this part of the ‘leave it all on the court’ mantra? Really?

I give myself permission to think of other things. What about fun? Seeing friends? Travelling? Hmm…this could be interesting.

So, here’s the list I have come up with for the next several weeks (I’m still a product of my Catholic upbringing, so I start with the tedium):

Administrative.    Leave it ALL on the court.

Clean out the closets, organize the office, do the taxes.

Health. Leave it ALL on the court.

Exercise 4 times per week (it’s now 3), skiing, skating, and walking in nature. Who said it couldn’t be fun too?

Creative. Leave it ALL on the court.

Baby book, poster, placards, perhaps a little poetry?

Cooking sessions at Williams-Sonoma.  I have been meaning to do this for the last several months and have not found the time.

Soulful. Leave it ALL on the court.

Group meditation. There is something magical about meditating in a group.

Yoga. I need a gentle yoga class for flexibility.

In April, I will be glad I have done all of these things. I think it will make the winter more enjoyable and life more fun.

I like my new mantra.

I am leaving it ALL on the court. How ‘bout you?  How can you fill your soul? How much fun can you have over the next several weeks? Take a few moments to think about it and give yourself permission to make it about your happiness.

As always, wishing you joy,