Wednesday, October 10, 2012

The Team Bible

How's that journal coming along? What, you didn't! Heh, what part of "start" don't you understand? Allow me to provide a little more "inspiration" as my daughter Susan would say.

If you've been following the blogs of late, you'll perhaps recall that in pre-game meetings, it's very worthwhile for each teammate to announce his/her "performance goal" for the game. Those performance goals should be part of a journal entry and in my post re. post-game meetings, the first item on the agenda is for each teammate to report to the team his/her rate of success of meeting the performance goal because one of the key hallmarks of performance goals is that they are measurable. You'll soon discover that there will be links between successful completion of certain performance goals and successful performance on both your part and the team. Record all of that!

Make sure following games that you take time to make journal entries about "anything" worth remembering for both you and your team. The list is endless from how you felt as the game progressed to concrete reminders of the venue. It's difficult for me to suggest what might go into your journal because it's so personal.

But, to today's post is what has become, my journal of sorts, The Team Bible. As you might expect, every team's "bible" will contain different information but there are six categories of information that are universal.

Rock Book
As the term implies, this is the section of the team bible that records stone characteristics as you experience them from venue to venue. A note of caution needs to be made at this point. This is an acquired skill over time, much time. If you "really" feel that a stone is not matched in any way with any other stone in the set, I mean "really" convinced (did I say "really" convinced) then by all means record it. You may wish to turn the stone over and use its serial number as opposed to the plastic camp (i.e. red #2, sheet C) as stone caps can be exchanged for various reasons but the engraved serial number will be a permanent part of the stone. It's usually found in the "cup" near the bolt hole. If you don't have the foggiest idea about that which I speak, don't worry about recording stones. It will only confuse you resulting in chaos. I'll deal with stone matching in another post.

Team Performance Notes
This is where you record your "team performance goals" just as each teammate does with "individual performance goals" (see above). When you add your w/l record, you'll soon discover the team performance goals that bring the best performances. This is a very important section of the team bible as it avoids spinning your wheels doing things that are unproductive or downright counterproductive.

Competitive Data
This section is the companion to the previous. This is NOT about statistics! This about information that can be gathered, sometimes empirically, that is really happening on the ice. For example, you may note that when you come home either up one without last stone advantage or one down with last stone advantage you win (or lose) most of those games. That's competitive data. Not to be silly but you can record coin toss calls and first or second practice, relating that data with performance.

Communication Protocol
I'll not elaborate too much on this topic as there's an article in "A Pane in the Glass: A Coach's Companion" on that topic on p. 108 with easily the longest title ("Who to Say, How to Say, What to Say, Why to Say, When to Say, Where to Say..."). Suffice to say it's the "rules of engagement" on the ice. Remember this; "Most of the distractions that negatively impact on the performance of the team come from within the team itself". Why? Because well-intentioned teammates make communication errors resulting in distracted teammates. The manifestation of that distraction is inevitably a poor performance followed by a loss in trust and a technical panic when the problem is a lack of a communication protocol.
The right teammate can say the right thing, to the right teammate, in the right way, at the right time, for the right reason but at the wrong place. Almost perfect but in the world of communication, almost isn't good enough because mess up on one of the protocols, in this case "place", and you've created a distraction. Good luck with that!
Developing your team's communication protocol is the result of two things; experience on the ice in competition and sitting down with your teammates and talking about who says what to whom, how, where, why and when. All these rules of verbal engagement are recorded and revisited on a regular basis.

This is the section of the team bible to record your scores on the drills you do in practice. I won't go deeply into drills as this time except to point out that "A Pane in the Glass: A Coach's Companion" has drills near the back of the manual called "Drills to Die For". Suffice at this time to counsel that when you do a drill, it should be measureable and the scores need to be recorded because when you execute a drill you need to be aware of your "average score" on that drill. That should be your target, to exceed your average score! If, in the process, you reach a personal best score, great, that simply goes into the arithmetic the next time you do the drill as the avcrage will now be just a little higher.

Every team, over time, believes certain premises to be true for them. It just happens! Well, if the team is convinced that somethings are true for them they need to record those beliefs. It may be about brushing styles, effective strategies & tactics, the sky's the limit but whatever they are, record them and like the communication protocol section of the team bible, it needs to be revisited.

Wins & Losses
You'll very likely want to keep track of your w/l record as the season progresses. When you win (perform) identify why you won (performed) and when you lose (don't perform well enough) make sure you record the "lesson" learned. Never lose the lesson!

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