Tuesday, March 25, 2008

A question from a visitor ...

I received this in my mailbox today from reader from the Men's Club community. It highlights how routine and casual decisions by us as coaches can have a heartbreaking impact on players. When we dangle that carrot and say "you'll get a chance to compete", we have to do just that.

body of email:
I play for a D3 club team and I'm in the pack. I have always wanted to become one of those TDMs (tactical decisionmakers) for the team and put a lot of thought and practice into improving how I see the game. This year our team has a need for a scrumhalf, and I was told to train up my fitness to play the position. I knew that two other guys would be competing for it as well; we all have different pluses and minuses.

Last week, after our second week of spring practice, I was told that they wouldn't be using me at scrumhalf, but to keep my skills up because it might "be an option" down the line. I will admit that I was deflated by this, and as an adult club rugby player, it's been hard to motivate myself to keep up the fitness or enthusiasm for practice since then.

The problem I have with the process is that none of our practices even involved any scrumhalf play (they were all just "let's get back in the swing of things" basic skills refreshers), and there was no opportunity to trial for the 9 shirt. While I'm sure I would be disappointed if I was beat out for a position, it is far more disheartening to lose a position without ever having a chance to
compete for it. I believe my skills are better than the other guys, and given a scrimmage, that I could run the scrumhalf position better. If I compete and am proven to be wrong, I am willing to accept that. It is hard to accept being shown a carrot and then having it removed so offhandedly.

I'd love to hear your (and your colleague's) thoughts on what a player should do in this situation. I also wanted to put out there the idea that, in my opinion, coaches should be conscious of players individual ambitions, and not make decisions like this with the appearance of casual judgment.

Its interesting that this email comes the day we're "declaring" our individual seasonal goals at today's training. How do others in the coaching community balance the needs of the individual with the needs of the team?

Anyone have any advice for this guy?


Anonymous said...

I have always taken the side of-- this is what team needs, these are the players that I can see fitting those needs, then approaching the player(s) and seeing what they would like to do. If their goals/wishes line-up with what I have in mind, we move forward from there. I think that at a college level, you are torn as a coach, often balancing the needs of the team with those of individuals wanting to progress in a certain field, direction, position-- for years, I had a player that was a phenominal prop, she wanted to try her hand at 8, and put the fitness in to do so... despite her work, having pulled her from my front three would have not been in the best interest of the team. We came to an agreement where she started at #1, and depedning on the flow of the game, she could move to #8. Although she loved playing #8, and that was trully where her heart was, she knew she was a bigger impact for the TEAM at #1. In her final tournament of college, she wore #8 the whole tourney...

Anonymous said...

tell your coach you were really looking for a run at SH and ask him/her to discuss where he/she thinks your skills are best used and why they made a particular decision. if they are a good coach, they will give you the time. or get over it and play with a chip on your shoulder rather than getting discouraged.

Em said...

You make your players state their personal goals so you actually know them. I like that.

Kevin BMK Sullivan said...

In America, our clubs are volunteer organizations. As coaches, it's simple to dictate position, but ultimately, this will destroy, not build a team.

You want to play 9. Go! I'd rather have a player with heart and the desire to play, than the talented prima donna.

Ultimately, this player needs a team with a selection committee. I coach a women's side, and I can't see everything, so I rely on my two non-playing selectors and two captains to flesh out the squad.