Monday, May 20, 2019

The Value of Team

If you are looking for a good new book we encourage you to read “Eddie Reese” by Chuck Warner with Dana Abbott (a portion of each book sold is donated to the UT Legacy campaign). Coach Reese has demonstrated over decades of swimming excellence that when the team comes first good things come to those on that team.
He recalls from 2013 that he had a few guys who were not making good decisions outside the pool and as a result were bringing the whole team down. He sat down with one of them (who happened to be one of the fastest guys on the team) and told him that he needed to grow up. And then he said, “And you are not going to grow up at Texas”. He was kicked off the team. Eddie had tried unsuccessfully using other methods to change the team problem. So he took the ultimate route.
On our club team we always are looking for ways to improve team culture. Our specific challenge is that we have teenagers who go to 14 different high schools and thus don’t have the “culture” reinforced all day every day. So we continue to work at it during our 2-3 hours a day 6 days a week. And it is work, no doubt about that. It is also continuous since our kids matriculate annually and new ones are added.
We talk about and reinforce the fact that each teammate must give as well as take. We ask ourselves when a new swimmer wants to be included, what will NBA get? Then we ask the swimmer the same question. We have a pretty good idea about what you will get from us; we want to know what we will get from you? This gives them an idea about the process we have.
Truth be known – sometimes we are better at it than others…such is life.
And another fun thing is watching the pro NBA teams. All 32 of them have millionaires who can shoot and pass and even defend now and then. Yet over the last 5+ years one team – Golden State Warriors (team motto is Strength in Numbers) – seems to have the “team” thing going on more often than not. The more they pass the better they shoot. There are basketball reasons for that correlation but it is the attitude that drives the entire organization. They all have egos; they wouldn’t be successful if they didn’t. Yet their operation, especially visible on the court, personifies the old adage “it is amazing how much gets accomplished when no one cares who gets the credit.”
What have you done for your team this week? What has it done for you? Is there a correlation?

Saturday, May 11, 2019

Eval – Debriefing

This from Kate Armstrong…: in thinking about the results of a game most of them fall into one of 4 categories.  1) Won and played well.  2) Won but played poorly.  3) Lost and played well.  4) Lost and played poorly.  Given the above four conditions, is there a constructive method when de-briefing a team so players will utilize the just-ended contest as a learning experience?
In our collective experience we find that after a few days of reflection it is valuable to revisit the race(s) now that the raw emotion is somewhat tempered by time. Perhaps we offer each swimmer the opportunity to rate their previous swim(s) as follows:
Give yourself a:
1 if you swam fast and constructed your race properly
2 if you swam slower than anticipated but still constructed your race correctly
3 if you swam fast but didn’t construct the swim properly
4 if you swam slower than wanted and put the race together incorrectly
The lower your score the more positive your performance. We think this achieves two important objectives.
First it takes the “higher the score the better the swim” factor out of the mix. And secondly it takes the “I didn’t do a best time” syndrome and eliminates it.
Face it, the more honest the evaluation BY THE ATHLETE the more valuable it is. This process also reinforces the “good race” versus the “fast race” notion. After all, the closer you get to your own personal zero the more unlikely it is that you will record a best time. Yet you can still have an enormously successful race.
We trade success for best times regularly…really simple: we are in the success business.