So we had our first rugby competition game yesterday and lost 14-11. The game itself was pretty uneventful. One try apiece a couple of penalties. However some things I found so frustrating was how hard it is for players to respond to what is being said.
The game started as it meant to go on with a penalty conceded by our team after only about 2 minutes of play. After about 20mins of play we had not got out of our half and probably was on the end of a penalty count of about 10-4.
About 3 times it was said by various members, including the captain, coaches and senior players. Stop giving away penalties, leave the ball along and just defend. But that seemed to fall on deaf years. Penalties were still conceded and we did not seem to get the message.
I imagine this would be seen time and again in sporting environments where the coaches and senior members insist on something stopping and this message seems to somehow completely gets lost in the murky depths of the mind and nothing changes.
Why is this? Why is it so hard when your told to do something to just not do it? I have a couple of thoughts and have talked about this before. Essentially I believe it comes down to humans raw basic nature. At times of stress and tiredness and pressure I believe we revert to our natural instincts that have been ingrained into us over the years by training and repetition. To suddenly expect a person to be able to change their habits upon a WORD from a coach is unacceptable in my opinion. This kind of stuff has to be practiced and practiced so when the coach says something you have developed this ability to change and adapt as well as actually do what they are saying already.
This is where the coach I believe has quite a large influence in a team. A coach at the beginning of their tenure will attempt to identify some key points they wish to develop and ensure the team follows. It is these philosophies that must be constantly reinforced at every training to the point of being blatantly spealt out like we are 5 year old children. After a while, just like children, we won’t need to be reminded so much and when the pressure tiredness sets in we will revert to these habits wanted by the coaching staff.
It’s no point a coach expecting a team to suddenly be able to change/adapt on demand. Of course there will be some individuals that respond to this but as a collective whole, it’s fairly unlikely. That’s why it can take 2+ years for a coaches true skills to come to the fore. A sportsman’s head can be harder than stone sometime and it can take a while etching the philosophies in there.
Teams at the top levels practice this kind of thing all the time. Adapting to change. Practicing good habits and skills. Learning to listen, take in and react under pressure. But even at those levels most players will have a breaking point where this goes out the window and they revert back to bad unwanted habits. Most players don’t include some of the greats in a particular code as those people have got their by just hard work, natural skill, and a ability to iron out the wrinkles that are bad habits.