If you happened to catch the brief exchange Mike Mahony and I had recently in the Comments area, you may have at least gotten the feeling that he’d done his own blog post, this on a pretty serious problem that occurred with the Bantam level team he helps manager. And, without going into very much detail right now, let me just say that it was pretty dawgoned ugly. Worse yet, I think Mike and I both agree that such a problem could have been nipped in the bud a long time ago (as far as I’m concerned, the makings of that problem should have been handled way back in September).
Now, I’m certainly not happy that Mike and his team had to experience what they did. However, the timing of this plays right into a project I’ve wanted to undertake for awhile. So, with that, let me begin…
Project: Team Rules
I’m going to start with two different approaches to a common team problem, that of a player frequently missing practices.
- Just supposing a coach sets a really tough rule in reference to a player missing a practice. I mean, before a season even starts, he or she announces to every one in a team meeting that a player must sit-out a game if he or she misses a practice during the preceding week. Again, I know that’s a bit extreme, but it still helps in this example, because I’m going to guess that everyone in that meeting is going to nod in the affirmative, even if they don’t totally agree with or like the rule.
- In yet another scenario, no rule was ever established when it came to practice attendance. However, partway through a team’s season, one player continuously misses. Suddenly, fed-up with it, the coach announces that the player is going to get benched for all those misses. I don’t know about you, but I can just hear the player and his or her parents screaming right now! Ugh.
Okay, so what’s the difference in the two approaches?
In the first one, I’ll suggest that no one in the team meeting took the practice rule personally. Oh, my guess is that some of the more dedicated ones might actually like it, ’cause they usually get pretty ticked that less caring teammates miss so many practices. Even at the other extreme, however, I think parents will accept the rule. They probably don’t have much choice — partly because so many others agree with it, and especially because it’s not perceived as being totally aimed at them. Again, the rule isn’t personal; the rule is for everyone.
Of course, the second approach is going to cause such an uproar mainly because it is perceived as personal. Hey, the coach has focused on one player, and levied what — under these conditions — seems a pretty extreme punishment.
So — I’ll say once again, it’s all about whether a team rule seems personal or not. And, the only way I can see this being accomplished is to articulate every single team rule BEFORE THE SEASON GETS UNDERWAY.
Again, setting down rules prior to a season gives every player the chance to start with a clean slate, and it’s hard for any team member to take a rule personally. On the other hand, I’m going to suggest that missing just one necessary rule prior to a season’s start makes it almost impossible to fix later on.
All that said, what I’m hoping to do with today’s post is to solicit reader suggestions for a fairly thorough collection of team rules.
Why now, though , rather than just prior to next season? Well, what I’ve found is that the craziness of a hockey season is still fresh in all of our minds — right now. And, what I’ve found in the past is that I’ve personally forgotten some of those things as the spring and summer months have gone along.
So, can you think hard about this? There had to be something going wrong with your team over the past winter — something you feel could have been better handled, or prevented? And, if it’s just one idea I get from each reader, imagine how thorough my/our list will ultimately be.
Yes, I did say “our list”, because I’m going to ultimately publish that list over at CoachChic.com, and I’m going to grant access to anyone who contributed. Better yet, I’m going to attempt do something special for anyone who sends me a really, really good suggestion.
Does this sound like a plan? I hope so.
Don’t let any time go by, however. The last thing either of us wants is for something extremely important to be forgotten. So, please email me: Click to Email Dennis. It would be helpful if “Team Problem” is in the email’s Subject Line.
(Oh, and please save your complaints about a coach for another time, unless there is a way this fits into our plan to deal with “Team Rules”.)