I haven’t yet gotten used to the idea of driving over to the University for a Friday night fixture, the roads aren’t the same, the traffic is different, it just all feels somewhat outside of my routine!
I arrived forty-five minutes before tip, the players were busy setting up the court, talking with each other and generally being self-organised. We were due to play our second team tonight, a concept that could be debated each way for a number of hours. I tried to stay away from the whether or not the appetite for such a concept was an healthy one or not and focus on demonstrating respect whilst trying to work through our game model. At this point, I should highlight that there are several teams between us and the second team in the league and so I had anticipated ‘A’ but gotten ‘B’.
They were all over us, we couldn’t make a pass, execute a dribble or even get into anything, we were sleep walking (not even in the gym yet) whilst they were engaged, moving and leading, 16 – 8! I was firm in my time out, addressing only two things, our levels of effort, which we should have been aware of as I had been asking ‘Where Are We?’ We clearly scored low on our scale of effort and it was showing. My second point was also a simple one, work together to find ‘us’, regain our identity (Who Are We?) and begin to play the way I know we can. I wrapped all of this up with a short sharp statement – Go find us!
The players exited the time out with a renewed sense of purpose, their levels of communication escalated, both on the court and on the bench, and we began to be us – running, defending, hustling and doing it together. I returned to my seat and continued to try and take stats whilst coach, not something I would normally do but then I was experimenting with a self-coaching approach to the game, allowing players to control our game model and direct our play on the court. I wanted to be able to give them a snap shot of Who We Are, a picture by numbers as a means of illustrating what we do. As a club, staffing was a difficult area of work, we couldn’t find volunteers to complete game stats for us and so had to do without. Hence, the decision to have ago myself and hopefully provide something the players could learn from.
We eventually got hold of the game and ran out winners, however, the taking of stats had served to change our approach somewhat, we had become aware of our individual performances, there was a selfishness that had crept into our play in a bid to take hold of the top scoring spot. I didn’t like it one bit, it was obvious and it was something I was going to have to address. For now though, we finished out the game, exchanged congratulations, as you do, and I made my way home. It would be a short turn-around and I would be back at LBU, back on the side line and back supporting these twelve players.