What To Do When You Shoot A “Life Airball”

Silhouette of Teen Boy Shooting a Basketball at Sunset, copy space

I’m tired today.

I stayed up way too late watching the NCAA championship basketball game. I recorded the game on my DVR because I had something very important to do during the game (I had to watch last week’s episode of Dancing With The Stars with my daughter). So I didn’t start watching the game until 11pm. Zzzzzzz.

I had another article I was going to write today. In fact, it’s already half-written. Then I watched Duke defeat Wisconsin in a pretty classic nail-biter that was anyone’s game until the final few seconds and, of course, it gave me a better idea for a post.

I saw at least 3 airballs during the 40 minutes of play. That’s 3 shots that were so poorly executed that they entirely missed the basket. Nuthin’ but air. From the two best teams in college basketball.

Oh, I’ve seen professional players do it, too. Think about that. They get paid millions to put the ball in the hoop and sometimes their shots appear so sloppy they don’t even hit the net!

Airballs are extra embarrassing because they’re just so VISIBLE and unexpected.

Ever shoot a “life airball”?

What happens on those rare occasions when we make a decision or take an action that causes us to completely miss the mark in a very visible way? I don’t know about you, but I often pause the “game” and take an extra long timeout to beat myself up. I’m frustrated that I screwed up. I’m humiliated that other people saw it. I feel guilty for letting my “team” down. I mean, I really let myself have it. There’s never any need for anyone else to yell at me, I do a pretty good job of yelling at myself.

Here’s a good example of one my recent life airballs: I scheduled a meeting with someone that just happened to be during my spring break. I don’t know why I did that, but the meeting was in Columbus, OH, and my spring break was in Hilton Head, SC. Of course, I didn’t even realize I’d shot this particular airball until I got an email from the guy I was supposed to meet with asking me if I had forgotten about our meeting. If there had been a crowd watching my life, they would have chanted “AIR-ball, AIR-ball, AIR-ball” to further embarrass me. I was pretty mad at myself and sad that I let the other guy down like that.

It’s times like these when I need to remember the truth about airballs:

Airballs are just shots at the basket that didn’t go in. That’s it. A missed shot is a missed shot, whether it’s all air or whether it rolls around the rim and falls back out. Sure, an airball is embarrassing, but only as long as I let it be. The faster I get back in the game, the faster it fades from my memory (and everyone else’s).

In the case of my missed meeting airball, I apologized profusely and rescheduled as quickly as possible. I also set fifteen calendar notices and alarms to make sure I don’t miss the next one.

Here’s another thing: the chance of shooting an airball skyrockets when you take a risk or try something new. It just goes with the territory. Good to know, right?

You’ve probably heard the saying: “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.” I’ll add to that, “And if you take enough shots, a few of them will be airballs…and that’s totally ok.”



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