Coach Spotlight Series: Mickey Lai

Wednesday is Friendsday here at CoachUp so we're anxious to share our newest Coach Spotlight Series with you all! This week we've got Mickey Lai, one of our awesome coaches from Mountain View, California. As always, we urge our readers to reflect upon how Coach Mickey's answers and beliefs can be wrapped into your parenting, coaching, or training sessions. Coach Mickey sent us some very thoughtful answers, so please, don't let us delay you any longer!

CoachUp: Hey, Coach Mickey! Congrats on being selected for our Spotlight Series! For starters, tell us about yourself and your experience with basketball!

IMG_7499Mickey Lai: My Coaching Experience includes: University of California, Davis -- Assistant for Women's Division 1 Basketball Program Egan Middle School -- 7th Grade Boys Basketball Los Altos High School -- Freshmen Boys Basketball Mountain View High School -- Girls Basketball El Camino YMCA -- Private Trainings, Group Trainings CoachUp -- Private Trainings, Group Trainings

CU: Why do you love basketball?

ML: My love for the game began around five years-old, watching my brothers play at Washington Park, and listening to my father tell his stories at the dinner table about the glory days as a professional player in Vietnam. In that kind of environment, it's not much of a surprise that I strove to become the best player in the family. From then on, basketball was a huge part of my life. Over time, I exceeded my families expectations and even my own.

On this journey, I found something that was beyond the game, something that I knew I would value for the rest of my life: relationships. Basketball helped me create relationships with so many people, some I would only know for only a game, some throughout a season, and some who I've known for most of my life. I also learned a lot about myself and realized that I'm not that different on and off the court. Basketball taught me about discipline, commitment, respect, teamwork, adversity, fun, and love. On the surface, basketball is just a game, but behind the lines, it was so much more.

CU: Why do you enjoy working with athletes?

ML: My passion to teach began when I was in first grade and my younger brother came into this world. Without a choice, I became an older brother and a role model. This experience created a great foundation before I even began professionally working with kids at summer camps, child care centers, in the classroom, and on the basketball court.

CU: What is your coaching style or philosophy?

ML: My philosophy revolves around a few pieces. First, we focus on fun. Players, myself included, need to have fun playing the sport whether it’s during competitive games or practice. If activities are fun then players will give their focus and full efforts which is usually half the battle.

Secondly, we build relationships -- getting to know my players and their families is a huge piece to my philosophy because we need to build trust for each other. I love learning about my players because the more I know about them, the better I can serve them.

CU: What can a client expect from private lessons with you?

ML: Clients should expect to have fun and to improve. From Kindergartens to Adults, I work with a wide-range of athletes so I always strive to make sure there's laughter and smiles when we practice. Clients should also expect me to be hard on them when it’s necessary, but never in an inflammatory or humiliating way. Once the fundamentals are taught and the players have learned how to properly run drills, I expect the tempo to rise.

CU: What do you enjoy most about coaching?

ML: I really enjoy the relationships I build with the children and their families. Life is all about relationships and when it comes to player and coach, those will absolutely last a lifetime.

CU: Where do you train with your athletes and why?

ML: Washington Park in Sunnyvale, California. This is my home away from home for me, to put it simply. My brothers use to wrap me up in blankets and sit me on the sidelines as they played pickup games for hours. At the end of the day, this is where it all started for me and when I’m there it gives me a different kind of energy.

CU: What’s the most important advice you’d give to other coaches? To athlete’s parents?

ML: Lead by example. Too often, coaches and parents talk the talk but never walk the walk. It gives you more credibility as a role model when you can demonstrate how something should be done rather than sit back and talk at players. This also saves a lot of time when it comes to coaching because there can be so much miscommunication with verbal instruction.

CU: How do you recommend athletes train in between sessions? During off-season?

ML: Sometimes I tell players to get away from basketball for a little bit. It’s okay to step away and get your mind off of basketball because sometimes we need that. I also highly encourage players to find others sports to play. I believe that all sports intertwine and each one has its benefits that can be used when they come back to the basketball court.

Bravo, Coach Mickey! Thanks for you inspirational answers and thoughtful insights. If you're lucky enough to be in Coach Mickey's area, please consider booking him for a training session! Additionally, you can find him at @coachedbymickey on Instagram, so go enjoy his awesome training pictures as well. Thanks again to Coach Mickey and good luck to our readers on making this your best week yet!

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