The Inside Game

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So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.

2 Corinthians 4:16–18


The winter sports season is here—a time when athletic competition moves from the outside to the inside. This movement inside is an apt metaphor for you to consider as a Christian coach because many of your student athletes might need some spiritual encouragement and replenishing. The freshness of the beginning of the school year has been replaced with tedious routine, tougher homework assignments, and perhaps even boredom. Darkness comes quicker every evening, the weather turns colder and more inhospitable, and now the longest sports season of them all is about to start. Many of your student athletes may already be running on empty from a busy fall season, winter colds, and general fatigue.

Of course, some of your athletes will be mentally ready to go and excited to participate in their favorite sport. Praise God from whom all blessings flow! Be careful, however, not to judge a book by its cover. Your athletes may look like they are prepared or have everything put together, but they may be drained on the inside.

So start off the season by working from the inside out. Fill your student athletes’ heads and hearts with God’s Word and some meaningful devotional thoughts as you prepare for the long winter months ahead. Remind them that it is a privilege to play sports and that athletics provide a wonderful opportunity to grow in and share their faith.

While winter sports can seemingly have more dog days compared to other seasons, it is also the season that includes Thanksgiving and Christmas. You and your athletes have much to be thankful for and celebrate in the coming of our Savior, Jesus Christ! It might be cold outside, but being renewed by God’s Word will motivate your student athletes and give them a focus that will serve themselves and your team well. Teach them to embrace and enjoy a winning winter season because, by God’s grace, their inside game has never looked or felt better.

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About the Author
Jim Pingel

Jim Pingel

Jim Pingel has served as a basketball and volleyball coach and an administrator and teacher at two different Lutheran high schools. He currently serves as the Director of Graduate Education at Concordia University Wisconsin. In 2000, he was the Minnesota State Basketball Coach of the Year Section IV Class A, and he was chosen as the South Wisconsin District Administrator of the Year in 2012. He is a passionate advocate for the integration and assimilation of biblical faith lessons throughout the curriculum and co-curriculars.

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