I play what I consider to be a fun warm-up game which is set up like a team relay competition. In the set-up I incorporate numerous and varying levels of technical progressions dependent upon the quality of the players I’m working with.
So here is the set-up: I asked the players to split themselves into two groups, then each one of the groups divided themselves evenly amongst the cones. In our case, we had 16 players. So, team A had 4 players at one cone…their teammates lined up directly across from them at the cone 20 yards away. In other words, 2 teams divided evenly at 4 different cones.
On go, I asked the players to race from their cone to their teammates cone. Upon arriving in front of their teammate, they were to complete a specific skill (with the ball between two players) and the relay continued in the other direction. Team A won by comfortable margins each race.
At the conclusion of race #2, I questioned Team B. I stated that Team A must be much better players than any of those on Team B, right? That’s why Team A was winning so comfortably. None of the players on Team B agreed with my statement. They admitted that they were just going through the motions with no real energy or desire.
One could have easily deduced that the stronger players made up Team A…and a lack of skill was the reason Team B lost each contest. After some direct words with Team B (my attempt at motivation), Team B responded well and nearly beat Team A in the 3rd race.
WHY IS IT THAT PLAYERS DON’T SEEM TO CARE WHEN THE QUALITY IS POOR? IS IT THAT THEY DON’T MIND LOSING? WHY DOES IT TAKE A COACH TO HAVE TO GET UPSET WITH THE LACK OF EFFORT FOR PLAYERS TO FINALLY SHIFT THINGS INTO A HIGHER GEAR?
This concept really bothers me. I see this quite often. If we are a country that does a pretty good job of developing athletes and competitors, what is happening here? It’s not the 1st group of players I’ve had to address in this way to get them going. In fact, I had to do it two weeks ago with high school aged players hoping to get noticed by college coaches.
Once the energy and engagement level increased in Team B, so did the skill and quality of their performance. So…as I can figure…it’s merely a case of the attitude to win and the desire to compete…..not a lack of skill. Wouldn’t you agree?
My biggest question is why is it so rare to find that competitive spirit in players…that burning desire to win – no matter what the contest? If I would have said nothing to Team B, I’m fairly sure the demolition handed out by Team A would have continued.
- Were the players on Team B too scared to say something about their poor performance?
- Was it a leadership issue?
- Were they OK with their lackluster performance since it was just practice…better yet – just the warm-up?
- Did the players consider themselves inferior to the Team A?
- Did they just not care?
Here’s the even bigger question –
HOW DO WE CHANGE THE MENTALITY/ATTITUDE OF YOUNG PLAYERS? IS THE DEVELOPMENT OF A STRONG MENTAL ATTITUDE IN THE CONTROL OF YOUTH COACHES?