The Circle Game: A New Way To Measure Accountability

Posted by Tim Nash on Sep 27, 2017 11:00:00 AM

Way back in the 90s, the late Tony DiCicco had his players complete an exercise that emphasized teamwork, accountability and work ethic.

DiCicco used the exercise with his 1996 Olympic Gold medal winning Women’s soccer team and the 1999 Women’s World Cup Champions.

The exercise is very simple, yet very effective. DiCicco drew the team’s formation on a whiteboard and asked a player from each position to come up and circle the area for which they felt they were responsible.

One by one, players would circle their area of responsibility, and inevitably they were conservative in outlining “their part of field.” After the last player was finished, the board gave a clear view of what the players thought each player was supposed to be responsible for. Circles would touch in some areas, but for the most part, position roles could clearly be seen.

Then DiCicco would say, “When our circles overlap, we will dominate.”

What that immediately showed the players that what they thought was “their area” was different than what their area could be, and permission was granted for them to do more.

I remembered the exercise while reading about ways to foster accountability within teams. The specific moment I remembered it was when I read this: “Allow team members to be vague about what they will contribute to the team to eliminate the idea that ‘As long as I have finished my task, I’m in the clear.’”

DiCicco’s circle game didn’t ask players to circle their area of responsibility down to the specific square yardage. He asked what they “thought” they were responsible for. The exercise pointed out several things.

First, no one was responsible for an area alone. Everyone should expect to help in areas outside of their specific zone. It also gave freedom to those who were afraid to venture outside their area, and it eliminated the idea that they could be satisfied just taking care of themselves.

Another article I read suggested that coaches should create a new definition of accountability. Call it “count-on-able,” which indicates that you can count on your co-worker to follow-through.

If you asked your players to look around, would they see teammates they can count on? If you asked them to look at themselves, how big would they say their circle is? How close are you to having overlapping circles?

Accountability doesn’t just happen. There are a lot of steps that need to be taken, and DRIVN can assist you with the process. Find out how.


Topics: Team Chemistry, Athletic Performance, Team Communication, Elite Sports Teams, Athlete Development, Soccer