It’s summertime and everyone is in full vacation mode. So, why have we already begun getting together as a team a couple of times a week? A coaching peer was expressing how frustrating it is for them when we have a limited number of our team show up for training during the off-season. Their perspective was that it is much more meaningful to wait and have a date where everyone is expected to be in attendance. That way, the group as a whole can exert a certain level of motivation to each other. Valid points and one can certainly support that point of view.
On the other hand, what about those players that want to work on their individual skill sets and maybe enjoy atmosphere that the smaller sized group has? Perhaps they wish to meet the new members of the team and have the opportunity to get a feel for their work rate or level of play? Maybe there is a social component to being together that goes beyond the X’s and the Y’s. So, the question becomes, is it worthwhile for us as coaches to be available to players in smaller numbers? Is there any merit to being able to drill in and help make corrections at a lower ratio of players to coach? Or maybe it is just an opportunity for the players to get out of the house? I don’t know but I do know we have had more than 75% of the players come out for each session without any pressure from coaches that they attend, so maybe it is a combination of all the above.
Just as coaches demand a certain level of committment from our players, we should demand it of ourselves. Once we decide that we are going to instruct players, do we have an obligation to be accessible to those players on a regular basis? What sacrifices do we realistically need to make in order to give players as much opportunity to develop as possible? We speak of player development and every coach wishes that players were more skilled, were faster or that they work harder, I am sure that you have heard all of this before. Yet, I do wonder why it is, that we demand such time commitments out of our players and set pretty high expectations for their improvement, but yet we expect to make inroads with just a twice a week investment? What are we demanding of ourselves in order to contribute to the growth of our sport? Personally, I know I spend about 15 to 20 hours per week in off-season and when season rolls around, that amount of time can easily double with club games, teams to be scouted and attending college games as a student of the game.
One of our players was upset at the last session over the work rate of some of her team mates. We spoke about how we are still in “summer” mode and as we gear up, the expectation from each player will be that they are fully engaged in each activity. The upset player stated that they had taken time off of work in order to come train and it made them feel they had wasted that time when other players goof off and were not taking the training seriously. This lead to a discussion about choices and the things that are in our control. We left it with an understanding that each player comes to the game with their own expectations and commitments. Coaches try to create a level of expectation that suits the particular group they are working with and set a tone that will resonate for that group, but just like any other aspect of the game, it takes a certain amount of time to achieve that tone.
Part of the process of creating an environment and setting the tone for a player and the team is determining what goals are we trying to reach. By definition, a goal is something that we have not achieved yet but are willing to work towards through committment and processes. We encourage every player to ask themselves what is it that they are trying to achieve during their time with the team, and to help set goals for the entire team. The player’s goals are unique to that person while the team goals tend to be much harder to articulate.
We make sure that the players know we expect them to be fully committed to the team and to the work that the team requires from each of them so that we become better players and a better team. While we realize that each player has differing ideas of what they want from their time on a team, we all realize that each of us have contributions we must make. For the players, it is being fully engaged in the activity at hand and challenging themselves to master each aspect of that activity, for us as coaches, it is being many hats to many players, sometimes, it means being the bad guy and giving players choices they may not want to make.
Goals, Choices and Commitments we all have to live within these constraints that are created by our either being active or passive in regards to each of them.
find your passion, live your dream.