Athletic competitions, when you get right down to it, consist of a series of problems or puzzles. The coach’s job is to be sure the athlete has enough tools to solve every problem and to teach the player how and when to use them.
There are 28 different categories for which a women’s soccer player at the University of North Carolina receives a score – every day, in practice and in games.
It’s part of an effort by head coach Anson Dorrance to develop what he has labeled a “competitive cauldron,” a developmental environment which encourages – even demands – competition between teammates.
I came across a good quote recently from a guy named Ric Charlesworth. He’s a famous Aussie cricket and field hockey player and coach who also served as a member of the Australian Parliament for 10 years.
Charlesworth is credited with saying, “The interesting thing about coaching is you have to trouble the comfortable and comfort the troubled.”
There is a growing school of thought that training you team to “peak” at a certain time of the year is no longer the best idea in team sports.
In individual sports like swimming or track, sure, peaking will always be important. it’s pretty obvious that the athlete wants to peak at precisely the right time to put in their best performance of the season in the big event.
But with team sports, it’s not all that feasible that coaches will be able to get all their athletes – or at least the right group of them – to peak at the same time. Injuries, different work-ethics, and varying outside factors of each athlete all contribute to an unmanageable peaking calendar.
We hear the complaint more and more frequently in various forms. But most of the time, it starts with “Kids these days ...”
The complaint revolves around teenagers – and sometimes covers an entire generation – and their phones. “Their heads are buried in the phones” … “They don’t know how to interact with people” … “They have no social skills.”
Once we learn that most of the people being criticized actually can communicate, they just do it differently now, we can start to explore ways to effectively reach them. Adopting their chosen method of communicating is a great start.
Seldom does a movie change the way sports are played, but in 2011, Moneyball did just that. Based on the Michael Lewis book of the same name, Moneyball chronicles the Oakland A’s 2003 season, in which the use of data analytics changed the way baseball teams signed, paid and used players.
Like it or not, data analytics is here to stay. Since 2011, data analytics exploded and has grown to accommodate every aspect of sports – from front-office operations, to on-field performances, to injury prevention, to concession sales, to travel and anything else you can think of.
Back in the 90s, I learned about a simple team-building exercise that seems appropriate at this time of the year. Teams that play fall seasons, are entering their playoffs or major tournaments, conference championships, NCAA tournaments. It’s that time of the year, when players are excited, have high expectations and lofty dreams.
They are also wondering if they are good enough, either individually or as a team. Coaches are looking for ways to re-assure them, motivate them and give that extra boost of confidence that could make the difference.
Just when you think you have a handle on the most recent technology, it changes. Just when you have almost perfected a method of communicating with your team, a better way comes along.
“Just go out there and relax.”
Most coaches have said that to their team at one point or another, or in some cases before every game. And chances are good that later on you are going to ask those same players to have more intensity.
One of DRIVN’s more popular features is the Trackers, which provides coaches and athletes a way to monitor, record and chart data to help maximize performance.
Are a couple of the team’s athletes more fatigued than the others? Is muscle soreness an issue within the team? Is the stress level higher at one point in the season than others? It’s easy to understand how those factors can be important to the performance of an individual or team.
But what about sleep? The amount of sleep your players are getting is also measured through DRIVN’s trackers. Is sleep really that important?