The Humanity Behind Passing – Lessons from a Parent


I was talking with a wise parent the other day and he pointed out something I hadn’t realized. The complexity of passing a ball goes way beyond the technical aspects and physical coordination.

In the classroom we had watched a video of FC Barcelona playing its signature possession style, which means they work as unit supporting one another by creating space, providing options and moving the ball freely between its players. In other words, they have mastered the passing game. We teach the same style and this parent, made some interesting observations from a life perspective.

The reason for FC Barcelona’s success is their passing style. Yes, they have three of the current top 10 players in the world right now but as you watch these three play you can’t help but notice the selflessness as they give up the ball to a mate that’s in a better position to score. This fact alone lends strength to the principle that: as a team we are more powerful.

I am reminded of a phenomenon in nature. When a tiger fights a lion 1 on 1, the tiger always wins. However lions typically fight in packs and they always defeat a tiger because tigers fight alone.

While I’ve always believed in and taught the possession style as a coach, the added perspective from this parent about how this teaches a life skill, and furthermore how teaching passing from the perspective of the “humanness” can instill a critical value in children. I have now adapted a new strategy when teaching the “why” of passing. When we teach the humanity of helping our fellow player who is being pressured for the ball, there is a whole new level of incentive to support him/her and help them out. It’s not just about the success on the scoreboard, it’s about backing up and coming to the aid of our friends and family. If we make ourselves available and being there for them, we win off the field as well. Conversely we not only learn to support one another but we learn to lean on others to be successful. When we slug it out on our own, or allow our friends to do the same, we/they are easily consumed by our opponents.

So when we teach the principles of passing on the field or court, adding the human aspect to it, we’re raising young people who truly understand the concept of community not only on a cognitive level but on an instinctive level and this is something we’ve always stood for: sports is just a supercool way of developing good character in young people.