Monday, November 13, 2006

I'm a pusher

I'm a huge fan of Tina Fey - Mean Girls cracked me up. When I found out that my team only sent one rep to LAU Select Side tryouts, I wanted to know why. Internally, I wondered if maybe I was being too much of a "pusher" - I could just see that scene in my head, where Tina's character is trying to get Lindsey Lohan's character to join mathletes.

The answer was "I just wasn't really into it". So I wonder - do I/we push to hard? Enthusiasm is a great thing, but is it possible to be too enthusiastic? Isn't it part of our charter as coaches, to inspire, motivate, etc. Push? What do we do when our players "just aren't as into it" as their coaches?

I realize that not every player is destined for national glory. HOWEVER, I believe that it's very hard for a team to excel if at least a few of the players aren't on that quest for personal excellence. True, the bigger institutionally supported, financially stable programs like PSU, Navy, etc manage to excel year after year without a massive select side presence. But they also play top notch rugby week in and week out. Those players, by virtue of being part of those programs, are already on the quest for personal excellence. That's not who I'm talking about - I'm talking about the other 90% of programs.

We don't have a pitch. Our scrum "sled" is really just a piece of metal that we would prefer stays chained up to a fence. We don't have access to an athletic trainer. I've had players take a cab to a match because we never seem to have enough cars on game day. Don't get me wrong, the school supports us all the way - but the resources are limited and must be shared across all the clubs. For us, having those few players aspire "beyond their school" has helped to set the high standard for other players. A few go out, get great coaching, play at a faster pace, at a higher level, and osmosis takes over. Suddenly the whole team is faster, more intense, more driven. Is it a coincidence that the only schools who've beaten us in our league over the last two years have lots of select side participants?

So what's the secret? I don't want to change who my players are, but I can't help but want to change "what they want". Any ideas how to inspire without being "a pusher"?

6 Comments:

phillyrugger said...

I'm having the same problem. I, too, am a pusher. I only had three of my girls attend the LAU tryout this weekend. A couple of my most talented players are, as you said, "just not that in to it". I don't know what to do, other than keep pushing...

Mary said...

I think I'm the epitome of a "pusher." The last couple of years I've made the LAU U23 all-star tryouts a "mandatory" practice for my college team. The players don't have sign up to tryout, they just have to show up and go through the drills. By the end of the day about half decide to actually tryout.

Anonymous said...

Hey Coach, I know I fall into the "quest for personal excellence" category, but I think I have some experiance with this because I'm always trying to get Penn State players to try-out for MARFU's. I think it's a matter of putting the option out there and letting you're athlete's know they have a shot to make it. A lot of times my teammates do not think they'll make it so they don't want to try out. Also, telling them how much fun we had in Colorado really helped. A bunch of girls thought that select-side rugby is all work and no play. Another thing is mentioning that being on an all-star team will help their home club as a whole. The more coaching you get from different sources, the more tools you have in your toolkit. Hoped this helped, and I'm working on some Princeton and all the Penn State girls to tryout for MARFU's this year.

-Alison W.

Just call me coach.... said...

Thanks Alison, for the feel-good moment of my day.

Viva La Quinta!

Anonymous said...

pusher...definately because I know what a difference it makes and what a great experience select side rugby can make on your rugby career and the postive impact it can have on your club/college and I want our players to experience the same things. Its so frustrating to see such talent "wasted"....ackkkkkkk

-your asst. coach

Anonymous said...

Hmmm...being from the midwest is kinda different. When I went to Kentucky we did have an LAU tryout for the Ohio Union, and we usually had a pretty good turnout. Most of the UK girls went, and a lot of girls from ohio. Only Ohio State and Dayton girls weren't there (because they weren't allowed - dumb, i know). Those were actually some of the hardest practices I've ever had, even though the talent level was low, because our coaches were just trying to help everyone get better regardless of whether or not they made the team. Here in Iowa it's really weird because there pretty much aren't any LAU tryouts - our coach just pretty much tells the players from my team to go to the game, and then invites players of his choice from a couple other schools he has seen - and they usually come. As far as Midwest tryouts...well, they are invite only of course, but we've never had a shortage and they even CHARGE to be there. I guess that's part of the reason the midwest has been so successful in the past, because select-sides are seen as something that it is an HONOR to be a part of. Obviously though, the other territories have caught up on this, because marfu ALMOST beat us, and West did =(. But I don't think any coaches should stop being "pushers". My first season I had only been playing for 4 months and my coaches had sent in video to the U19's and suddenely I was on a jet flying to Austin for tryouts and had NO IDEA what I was getting myself into...I really didn't even know what rugby was let alone what National Teams were and all that....if my coaches hadn't pushed me like that, I would never have gotten all the amazing chances to play at high levels that I have...keep on pushing - you never know whose life you might change for the better...

-KY