Fall 2014 Blog – Post # 4
Sept 17 BLENDING THE PIECES
Developing and defining roles for all team members is the theme this week. For most coaches, your team has had at least a handful of matches by this point in your season. Hopefully, you have been able to review team and individual performances objectively with video and statistics. Whether you have a set line-up that you don’t anticipate changing, or find yourself juggling your lineup for every contest – this is a point in time where you need to be identifying roles for each player on your roster.
“Communication is the key”. That is a phrase I used in my Volleyball Fundamentals book. In that context, teachers of the game are encouraged to train players to “talk” on the court. Effective communication is also the key for helping players understand the role or roles you have in mind for them. By now, you have likely had “playing time” conversations with a player or two, and perhaps that has given you a chance to let them know where you see them on your depth chart. I want to urge you to get to everyone on your roster this week in a proactive way to enhance their understanding of what you are thinking about their role.
Your coaching philosophy needs to guide how you choose to share individual roles with your players. If you are comfortable with straightforward conversation, let them know where they stand at this point. I don’t know about you, but it was very commonplace for me to have daily uncertainty for a position or two on my team. If the truth is, that in your mind, there is very little separating three players competing for two spots – I think they need to hear that. Understand…not all players will buy it. However, part of coaching and leading is about making very tough decisions, and sometimes it just come down to a “gut” feeling. Isn’t learning how to make tough decisions one of the life lessons we get from sports participation? In facing this challenge, you get to model for your players “how to communicate” when you need to make tough choices.
Now, here is a little twist on this topic. Even though you are being encouraged to let each player know where they stand, be sure to look for opportunities to give someone “a chance”. I can only speak for myself, but the greatest coach I ever had (my Dad), taught me this. I heard many stories of his coaching days, where he did some outside of the box thinking related to providing a surprising opportunity to a non-starter. For me, these were stories about the human spirit. He “saw something” in a player who was not the best overall performer for a certain position. But the strength he saw in them was something that would fit nicely into the game plan for an upcoming opponent. Perhaps it was a physical trait – speed. It may have been a skill related trait – individual defense. I think what he accomplished more than anything was to raise hope in the minds of all players on the sideline, when he made these moves. I also think this inserted some well-placed reminders to the “starters” that they were always auditioning for their job.
One thing I know – it is essential that in blending the pieces for any team together, it is critical that all members of the program gain an appreciation for the contributions made by each part of that puzzle. What would it take for you to be able to shine the spotlight (at least once this season) on each player on your roster?
Think about it!
Next week > Where are we now?