26 November, 2011

Team Dynamics

Let me start by saying that the following thoughts are only my opinions and observations after being involved in teams of varying types from the time that I could walk. While I won't go so far as to say that this is the recipe for developing a team, I must admit that it has served me well on many occasions. There are many different aspects to having a team that can consistently function at the top of it's game for an extended period of time, despite the many pitfalls that will inevitably befall the team and the changes that it must endure. The first thing that must be in place to make an effective team is good leadership. This does not mean, however, that you have to have an amazing coach or captain, but rather a good core of people who are dedicated to excelling in all circumstances and growing forward into an amazing team. The real question here is how do you identify the people (especially but not limited to the newest talent) who want to excel and foster there desire improve most effectively? Personally, I have always seen it break down into essentially three categories: The Players that are ready, the on the fence players, and the social player.

The People Who Are Ready: This is the group that is relatively easy to identify. These are the players that come early and stay late to any activity that involves the team. They run hard, they hit hard and they play hard. In the best scenarios they ask good questions and try to implement any good teaching they can almost immediately. The good news is that these players are going to be good no matter what anyone does or says. The bad news is that they can be difficult to deal with at times because the drive and the ego that makes them who they are also slows them down from being able to listen objectively and grasp team concepts immediately. The best way that I have seen to deal with this type of player (though there is no wrong way if it is the right player) is to let them play with as little criticism as possible until they are able to understand the shortcomings in their game. This usually doesn't take long but being patient in the process can be a bitch. Don't be afraid to call their ego into check during this process but I would strongly encourage that it be done privately. The majority of your time as a team should go toward these types of players as they will be the quickest to respond.

The "On The Fence" Player: This is the player that is still figuring things out and is probably the most difficult to identify as they often mask themselves as one of the other two categories. These players can be sporadic, sometimes very accountable sometimes nowhere to be found. These players will typically ask for a lot of coaching, sometimes what seem to be good questions, but they will be slow to implement any tips if they do at all. The best way to deal with players like this is to include them in everything and answer what questions that they bring you, but limit the time that you actually spend coaching them. Seems a bit harsh? These players are in the process of making up their minds and the last thing they need from you as a team leader is to help them stay undecided. Give good advice and plenty of space for them to grow but spend your time with the ones who are ready to go. For the record, this is the group where many times you will find your best players but also where your heart will get broken.

The Social Player: This is the group of players that just want to belong. Usually it has nothing to do with their talent or abilities (many times the social players are the most athletically gifted) but for whatever reason, these players are not interested in dominating yet. This is not where you want to spend your time coaching and it is certainly not where you want to spend your frustration with lack of development. The best way to deal with these players (the ones who just wanted to be derby girls because it looked cool on a movie) is to let them belong and focus your efforts on the people who are ready to go now. There is nothing wrong with being a social player and they should not be ridiculed for it, but they should also not be allowed to create drama for the rest or monopolize the time that should be dedicated to improvement.

Again, the most difficult part of all of this is actually making the distinction on who is what player. Good luck with that one because people will always surprise you, but with a little practice and some good instincts you can use these tips effectively. Now back to the off-season workouts!

5 min warm up
2x 20 push ups
2x 20 overhead presses
2x 20 seated rows
2x 20 back squats
4x 30 sec planks
2x 20 floor bridges
5 min cool down

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