Tuesday, December 09, 2014

The Team Virus: Have You Caught It?

How quickly can a coach lose his influence on the team?   When teams lose, we tend to blame the coach.   Is it fair?

Yes and no.  Peer pressure can destroy a team.   Team culture will dictate the outcome.  Culture and work ethic are viral. When you have individual players that negatively influence the team, you lose the team.  Do you have a team virus?

As a coach, you want your players to talk, to communicate, to give each other information and feedback about the situation at hand. However, you don't want players to "throw each other under the bus" during the game.  

For example, watch out for players who call out, blame and berate other players during the game. When things go wrong, do you have a player who will yell at other players for mistakes, blown assignments, bad passes, lack of hustle, etc.?   Often if a player is yelling at his/her teammates, they have lost focus on their own responsibilities, even for a split second.  If he/she yells at a teammate, after the fact, you now have two unfocused players (maybe more, if the other players hear it and start to worry about their mistakes and whether they will be blamed and ridiculed, too).

The other team will pick up on this and will smell blood.  They are more likely to go on the attack and take advantage of this negative dynamic.  

Watch for body language and non-verbal behavior in your players for evidence of the team virus.

A missed assignment, a mistake, or a blown coverage is for the coach to address and correct. Make sure your team understands this. If a teammate gets involved in the coaching (especially during play), that may not be what you want.  In fact, if you are a player in the game, on the court, in the field, you want to quickly forget the mistake and move on.  Instructions are better given before play, not after a play when players can do nothing about it anyway.

Coaches should coach and players should play.  Don't give your opponent the advantage by letting your players coach themselves and negatively affect team cohesion.

Don't let negativity and player influence go viral.  Don't let your season get away from you due to a team virus.  

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