Dear Athletic Support: My daughter’s high school basketball team has a tournament on New Year’s Day this year. We had plans to go visit family out of state, but now I’m not sure we’re going to make it. This is my daughter’s senior season, and she loves her team, but then again, these are the Holidays we’re talking about! Why on earth would a coach schedule a tournament at this time? – Not-So-Merry Mother

Dear Not-So-Merry: Did you know about the tournament before the start of the season? From my experience, most coaches give out a schedule long before the first game is ever played. If your daughter’s coach did not, then that is a problem, and you have every right to skip out on the last-second tournament.

Rick Jones, head coach of the Greenwood Bulldogs, is arguably the best high school football coach in Arkansas history. When I was coaching, I used to make annual trips to Greenwood to meet with Coach Jones. I’ll never forget how organized he was.

At the beginning of each new year, Coach Jones hands out a calendar that has dates and times for every upcoming football event over the next twelve months. This calendar includes everything from community service projects to junior-varsity games. It is a thing of beauty.

If your daughter’s coach isn’t quite as organized as Coach Jones, that’s okay. I’d still be willing to bet that he handed out a schedule with the dates and times for games at some point. And if he did, and you still think it’s best for your daughter to spend the Holidays with family instead of playing basketball, then by all means, put your foot down.

Dear Athletic Support: Is there any way I can teach my son to start dribbling with his left hand? He basically plays basketball one handed, especially offense. I think he could be really good if he’d just learn to go both ways with his dribbling, but I can’t seem to convince him to give it a try. – Hand Solo

Dear Hand Solo: Basketball, especially when it comes to specific drills and techniques, is not my specialty. I do, however, play pick-up basketball pretty regularly, and I also happen to be a one-handed wonder, just like your son.

I’m getting to be an old dog, especially in basketball years, and I’m afraid I won’t be learning many new tricks any time soon. I don’t think I’ll be learning to dribble with my left hand, either. But there’s still time for your son.

It sounds to me like the reason your son only dribbles with his right hand is because he can get by with it. It’s gotten him this far, so what’s the point in mixing things up? This doesn’t mean your son is lazy; it just means he’s human.

What he needs, then, is a swift kick in the backside, or to put it more abstractly, a reality check. When your son comes to the realization that his right hand can only take him so far, one of two things will happen: He’ll either learn to dribble with his left, or he’ll quit basketball altogether.

If he does quit, though, don’t worry about it too much. He’ll still be able to compete fairly well in pick-up games. Trust me, I know.

Eli Cranor is a former professional quarterback and coach turned award-winning author. Send questions for “Athletic Support” to eli.cranor@gmail.com or visit elicranor.com.

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