Thursday, July 20, 2006

The Goal in a Game of Ultimate

Ok Folks, lets get down to business.

The actual role of a coach in game situation is to identify what is going on and set the team on a path to improve. Yep, that's right. The important goal is to improve - not win.

Sure winning blah blah blah losers always blah blah blah. But the reality is a team needs to improve, and once that team reaches a quality level then winning is more of a result.

For example, let us look at an imaginary team. First, let's imagine that our team is playing a weaker opponent. Our team will win in most situations, but the time and energy that our team has put in to the game has no benefit for the team unless we have focused on improving. When our team plays a stronger team the goal of simply winning again is a driving force, but it is not sufficient if we want to regularly beat a stronger team. The main focus must be on improving.

The caveat here is playing against a team of either extreme does not provide the environment to improve.

This is the perspective of a coach, so I guess the next question is should the team be focused on improving or winning during a game?

Great question. Personally, I feel that the individuals of the team need to be focused on being in the moment and executing the plan. Within the plan the coach/captain/team places internal goals to both win and improve. Players are motivated by both goals. This means that as important as a goal to improve was previously demonstrated the coach needs to include a goal to win as well.

Two questions come to mind:
1. How do we improve during a game?
2. How do we make a game plan with goals to both win and improve?

I'll leave 1 for now since in itself it is a complicated question that will be addressed throughout athletic time and maybe in my writings.

As for 2, well a plan itself accomplishes both, if the plan focuses on improving the team. How we present the plan can show emphasis for a particular goal. For example, any plan that attempts to improve a team has an ultimate goal of execution to success (which hopefully corresponds to winning). That plan, however, can be presented as a way to win now or in the future.

I'm missing a number of topics in this discussion including concepts like dealing with the psychology of losing and teams hitting an improvement peak. Maybe we will look into these topics later.

To sum up. A team has to focus on improving during a game. With either a top level team or a new team, the goal is to improve. Now if I could just improve my mating game conversation skills...