The health of a club extends well beyond its win/loss column. Many important aspects of player management are overlooked by local sporting teams and can quickly disrupt a stable team environment. Assess whether your side is on the right path through these four key indicators.
Training Attendance / Game Availability
What percentage of your squad attends training?
Is this based solely on observation or do you have records to know for sure?
As the phase goes…. ‘If it isn’t measured, it isn’t managed’.
I have found the smartphone app ‘TeamApp‘ to be the best resource in recording and monitoring training attendance and player availability. The app allows you to set reoccurring events for training nights, with reminders sent to players prior to the session. Players can notify if they are attending and records can be viewed over time and exported to Excel.
If players are not attending training then you need to know the underlying reasons why… Is training too long or repetitive? Does it meet the needs of your players? Do they enjoy training?
Practice sessions need to be designed so players feel they are improving and understand how training translates to performing on match day. Otherwise, they might be right in viewing it as a waste of time.
People playing amateur sport make sacrifices against work, family, and social lives. If your players are not attending training, they simply not value it or place a higher priority on what they decide to do instead.
One of the great challenges for a coach is to raise the motivations of your playing group, so they actively want to train rather than feeling obligated to attend or fearing punishment from avoiding it.
For more, see our post Why Nothing Is Compulsory in Amateur Sport.
Few things upset a player more than being dropped without warning or explanation.
While many factors make selecting team’s difficult, a player should never be surprised by losing their spot. If a players position is under threat, they should be made aware at the earliest opportunity with any concerns discussed and a chance to respond.
Further, it takes a player time to get over the emotion of losing their place. If a player is suddenly told they are dropped on a Thursday night, how likely is it they will be in the right headspace to perform in a lower team by Saturday?
Through holding conversations up front, you allow a player time to go through the states of feeling embarrassed, angry or treated unfairly before accepting what they need do to move forward.
Through setting expectations of early, you allow the discussion informing a player that he hasn’t been selected to focus on what they need to do in order to return to the side, giving them a sense of control and ownership over what happens next.
Many clubs make the mistake of just expecting the entire list will roll around next season and that players will inform them if they have intentions of leaving.
At season’s end, it’s the responsibility of the coach to hold individual reviews with players to understand their intentions and goals for next year. Ideally, these conversations are held face-to-face. However, online surveys can easily do the job for those with time or travel constraints.
These reviews should discuss the player’s overall satisfaction with the season, along with allowing players to provide feedback on training, captaincy, game plans, and coaching.
As said in Simple Recruiting Strategies for Local Sporting Clubs, it is better to focus on retaining and improving your current squad, than hoping some star recruit is going fix all your problems.
The link below provides an example of an End of Season Player Review. If you would like a Player Review Form adapted for your club, email firstname.lastname@example.org
Managing Player Exits
How many past-players are still actively involved at your club? Finding volunteers is one of the great challenges for amateur sporting teams and managing how players leave your club plays a major role in whether people will want to give back.
While it is inevitable that you will lose players, it is the manner in which this plays out that separates clubs with stronger cultures. Through transparency, honesty, and making the player feel their efforts and contributions are appreciated or celebrated, you can avoid the repercussions of breaking down relationships to the point where a player never wants to return.
Through investing the time to understand the motivations of your players towards training, their intentions to return next season and effectively managing conversations over team selection and how a player leaves your club, you can be confident in the well-being of your club.
BE THE VOICE THAT MAKES THE DIFFERENCE