Friday, September 21, 2012

Post-Game Meeting

Last week's post dealt with the "pre-game" meeting. If you've not read it, stop here and do so. It will make what I say today much more meaningful!

The post-game meeting is often problematic for a very simple reason, it's after the game and therefore the cold, hard reality of a result is front and center. Prior to the game, well, hope does spring eternal regardless of the odds of success. Not so following! To deal with triumph or disaster I'll refer to the words of a bard far more eloquent that I, Rudyard Kipling who wrote in his classic poem "If"...

If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same ...

And that's the trick, to treat them the same for they both provide valuable lessons if you're willing to listen! But do we listen? I'd suggest for many the answer is "no"!

After a "win" for many years, the next step after changing out of curling gear was straight to the club bar for an after game libation with teammates and perhaps, your defeated opponent. There was going to be little discussion of any great substance in that environment. Talk would have revolved around anything and everything BUT the game just concluded. When teams announce to me that they've just come off a winning performance, they'll get a question fired back at them that goes something, no, exactly like this, "Do you know WHY you performed well enough to win"? Did you (pl.) even talk about the reasons why you performed well and if you actually did that, did someone record those reasons for future reference? I'll postulate that the answer to both questions is quite likely a resounding "No"! What a golden opportunity you have lost! Never lose that precious information again because when "things ain't goin' so good" you'll wish you had! Look at it as insurance for the future against a downward spiral of less than spectacular performances which just may result in a string of "l's". But, when you lose, don't lose the lesson(s)!

So let's have a more detailed look at the post-game meeting. Again, as with the first admonition with the pre-game meeting, have one! Don't backslide to the old ways of heading for the bar. Tell your opponent, if you're playing in an atmosphere where socializing after games is expected, that you'll be with them in due course. These post-games don't have to be the NHL/NHLPA negotiations. It's your teammates who will sit across the table from you and you're working together to move the yardsticks down the field. It's not adversarial!

Second, what do we discuss? Well, go back to the meat of the pre-game meeting, Did your game plan work as you anticipated (remembering that's it's only a way to "start" the game)? But most importantly, how did everyone do on their stated personal performance goals? Go around the table. If you as the lead stated that you were going to get an interval time on every draw the opposition played and they played 56 of them, did you get 56 times? No? What happened? On two occasions I was helping my front end partner deal with a release issue he/she was having so I was 54/56 on my personal performance goal! That's a success rate of 96%. As Henry Ford said, "If you can't measure it. You can't manage it!" After everyone has checked in with the report card on their personal performance goal, examine your "team performance goal". It may have been to only allow one multiple score by your opponents. Well, did they only get one or didn't they?

Goals to have any real significance must meet the SAMM test. They have to be specific, attainable, measurable and mutual.

So many times I hear athletes/teams say things like, "We want to play better!" or "I want to have better draw weight." or the classic, "I/we want to be a formidable opponent." Noble hopes and aspirations but that's all they are. They are not valueless but their value is severely limited.

Outcome goals such as the ones stated above are fine. Don't misunderstand but as standalone goals with no performance support, their value plummets, and plummets quickly! And that's the key to goal setting. Start with an outcome goal then build a string of SAMM goals that support it. When you do that, you're going somewhere and the "breadcrumbs" you leave will be there when you need them in the future, and you will need them!

Another item that frequently finds its way onto the post-game agenda is the team's "communication protocol". Is it still working? Does it need any tweaking? If so, let's get 'er done!

This may sound somewhat hard-hearted but I'm at a point in my coaching career whereby I refuse to work with an individual or team that only has outcome goals. You can't control outcome goals! Performance goals are where it's at! Stick with them.

The last point I'd like to make on the topic of performance goals is the last item on the agenda. Before you leave the discussion of the game just completed, make sure each player has the floor to say anything he/she wishes! Always end that way! The teammate who's feeling somewhat embattled and is quiet during much of the post-game meeting will, in many cases, let it out when he/she has the floor and the rule is that everyone else has but one task. Listen! No interruptions! Listen! And that means you/me coach!

Oh yah, did someone write all this down in the team "Bible"?

When I'm coaching at a major competition, when the post-game meeting ends (usually at the hotel, our favourite place for the meetings) we morph into the pre-game for the next contest so when we arrive at the venue, we're ready to play!!!! Wow, what a great attitude! "We just can't wait to play!"

Send me an email ( Let me know how your pre-game and post-game meetings are going. If handled properly, the result should be improved team performance (there's that word again, performance).

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