Kids Can Call Time Outs Too
Kristina Wheeler has been coaching the high school girls basketball team at Heart of Los Angeles (HOLA) for a number of years. When she talks about the girls she works with, you can tell they are dealing with a lot in their lives. Kristina found that, sometimes, when practice would get heated, when the pressure would go up a little, the girls would start to get overwhelmed. Some would start fights, others would refuse to participate, and others would try to storm out of practice.
Kristina knows that in order to be better at basketball, these girls need to learn how to deal with stress. But she knows that it’s even more important that they learn to manage things when the stakes get high because it will help them navigate some of the challenges they face in their daily lives. So Kristina set about trying to come up with a way to help them make it through a whole practice or game without losing their cool. So she started letting the girls call their own timeouts, a strategy she remembered hearing about at her Up2Us Sports training. She let them call timeouts wherever and whenever they wanted, no matter what else was going on in the practice or game. Not long, drawn-out breaks, but just thirty seconds or a minute when they needed it. They could use the time out to take a few breaths and get back in the game. Or sometimes they would use it because they wanted to be subbed out.
Kristina said, “I thought they might take advantage of it and use it to keep the other team from scoring. But they didn’t. They used it when they needed to cool down a little and then they got back to what they were doing.”
If part of what is devastating about trauma is the loss of control, then part of healing has to be taking back some of that control. In order to heal, Kristina let kids have more control over their experience. Giving her girls the option of calling a timeout helped the girls on Kristina’s team recognize when things were getting out of control and then to take some control back, not only of their experience, but of the experience of the group.