Monday, August 6, 2012

Are your players ready to compete?

Are technique and skill enough to make a player effective during a game?  Why do some players struggle during competition after demonstrating their competence during training?

If I had an answer to this question I would be the most sought after coach on the planet. 

Technical preparation has to be the foundation of everything that makes the competent athlete.   Technical proficiency means you spend your precious time on the ball making decisions instead of worrying about your ability to execute.

 The Olympics are great because it always bring on numerous conversations about non-physical preparations and why people crack.

There are several, equally important, facets to our athletes that need to be in tune for success in a game.  Long term success brings on a whole new list of issues.  We will deal with game success here.

  • Has the player had proper sleep?
  • Are they tired?  Were they swimming/biking/hiking during the day?
  • Are they hydrated?
  • Are they partially sun stroked (during summer)?
  • Did they have dinner?  Was it appropriate?  Rushed?
  • Are their injuries being properly managed?
  • Is there fitness level suitable for what is required during the match?

  • Did they get a good warm-up before the game?
  • Do they know their job?  Can they execute their job? Do they UNDERSTAND their job?  Have they had a chance to rehearse or discuss what expected?
  • Is your team working as a unit in activities leading up to the game?

  • Does the player like/respect/trust his their coach?
  • Were they late?  Did that cause stress for them?  For you?
  • Did they forget some equipment and upset while waiting for it to arrive?
  • What about what happened before arriving to the field.  Was there an argument at home?  Did they have a bad day at school/camp? Family stresses?
  • Do they get along with their teammates?  Is there a bullying problem among your team?  Is anything going on “on-line” that you need to know about?
  • Do they want to play?  Why are they playing?
  • Are they playing at the appropriate level?

  • What are the expectations? Do they match the level of the players?
  • What is the tone/emotional level of the coaches and parents?

These questions not only apply to every age group and level, but the answers have different implications for each age group.  Social/emotional considerations for a 16 year-old will be much different than a 10 year-old player.  And in the younger age groups a child born in January 5 may not have the same characteristics as a child born December 27.  Both of these players are a week away from being in a different age group.

Some people will discount these points as being too analytical and kids should just "suck-it-up" and play.  The funny thing is a parent might tell their son’s teacher there is a problem at home, but not their coach.   And a coach will check a player’s injured knee or ankle, but rarely check on the organ that is between their ears.