In twenty three / four years of coaching I don’t believe I have ever been as unprepared as I was today. A quick recap of contributing factors highlights that it was a babysitting weekend for me, my middle son’s 30th birthday and most importantly of all, that I had lost my phone. I left the house with an hour to spare, I generally attempt to get to the game 45 minutes before tip to allow the players time and space to acclimatise themselves to the away venue, the anticipated level of competition and to ‘run’ through their personalised routines prior to my intervention.
We set off not really knowing where it was we were going, not driving removes an element of control for me, but not one that I was worried about. Having convinced myself that we were looking for a leisure centre facility we visited two before some historical research informed me that we were in the wrong place. My mood was low, I was angry, at self mostly, but also at the anticipated responses to my poor planning and now dramatic tardiness!! I arrived at our game just prior to the half-time break. Never before had I made such a mistake!! I sat down, exhausted, angry and frustrated at my lack of professionalism.
The second half began and I had taken the decision to observe and allow the contribution of a knowledgeable other to finish out the game. The question of winning or losing wasn’t a factor, rather, could we display Who We Were? Could we execute and could we self-correct should we need to. The short answer to the question, based on my early observations was no, not at all. My mood didn’t help my view but I wasn’t happy, we looked to be unconcerned with our play, our approach and even our effort, something that does not often come into question. I listened to the content of the first time out, doing my best to refrain from intervening. However, I couldn’t resist but offer some feedback, it just spilt out of me and at that point I didn’t hold back.
I returned to my seat and could only focus in on how what was occurring in front of me and how it looked nothing like what we were capable of, or indeed what we agreed would be who we were. The observations did however serve to highlight a number of deficiencies within our game craft. Firstly, that we continued to lack leadership, leadership that would hold each and everyone of us accountable for the things we were not doing on both sides of the ball. Secondly, that we continued to have small pockets of ‘I’ instead of ‘WE’. In other words, some of our plays stemmed from selfish movement and/or decision making, and did not serve the greater good, but rather an individual agenda. For example, one of our five offensive principles is ‘ball movement’ – we wish to demonstrate a look ahead pass ahead mentality, unbridled distribution of the basketball. At times, we failed to do this with any degree of willingness or indeed success.
The game quickly came to an end, I exchanged pleasantries and left the venue in what my wife calls ‘a mood’, one that should not be challenged or questioned until I give an indication that I am ready to be told otherwise. Over the remainder of the weekend I could do nothing but hold on to the concept of failure, failure to execute my role, to meet the players expectations of me and failure to present myself on time to a fixture. It was going to take some time to move beyond this and get myself refocused on being better at becoming better as a performance coach. In short, there was nothing I hated more than to feel as though I had let somebody down and I had done just that.