Happy Wednesday all, hope everyone is enjoying the beginning of their summer and the kids haven't driven you madder than a hatter yet. It’s been a hot minute since I last put something down for you all to read, so let's fix that today. Most of you are aware that the number one thing that occupied my time over the last 3-4 month is coaching rugby. Last year I did a piece, inspired by another coach, talking about my thoughts on the season and things I may, or may not have, learned in my first season as the head coach.
It was my second go around as the head man this year. The year brought up some new things for me to learn and unlearn. Today, I wanted to share those lessons with you all, let’s get to it;
Stick to your guns- This is something I got better at from last year to this year. There were a few policies I tried to put in place last season, but I didn’t stick to them. By the end, I didn’t feel great about breaking away from them, so this year I vowed to do better. What a surprise, it worked much better this go around. The players understood what was expected of them, and in the end my conscious was much cleaner than last year. Did it make some players mad? Oh yeah it did, but in the end, you’re not going to make them all happy, just be consistent and your decisions won't be questioned...OK let's be real, they'll be questioned, no matter what, just less so.
Hold your leadership group accountable, they’ll take care of the rest- With the new season I decided to create a leadership group (thank you James Kerr). Yes, I had my captains and vice captains, but I wanted a slightly bigger group to hold the team accountable. Most of you know, I hate yelling, if it gets to that point then I blame myself, not the players. With that, there’s obviously a certain point where the players stop listening to the same voice.
Honestly, these youngins, whether they like me or not, I’m still somewhat of an authority figure, which means I’m not always going to be listened to. I did find that when messages came from their peers (the leadership group), it hit them just a bit harder and sunk in just a bit deeper. If I felt like the team was unfocused, instead of shouting at them, I’d have a quick word with my captains, tell them they have 1 minute with the team to get them to refocus. They’d have their word, we’d get a quick sip of water and back to it, most the times the team refocused, with a few exceptions (nothing’s perfect).
Show them you care, they’ll care too- This job is so much more than coaching the skills, the tactics, the analysis and all that. There are so many soft skills, as it were, that are required to be successful as a high school coach and make an impact. Seriously, if you're honored with being in this position, why are you going to make it all about wins and losses, and not try something that will last far better no matter how the season went.
There were a ton of challenges brought to my attention this year with the players, with that, more than anything else, I wanted to show them that, yes I cared greatly for them, their wellbeing and their growth as a person (never mind a rugby player). When I showed them this, what happened was really awesome, they truly cared about each other and each other’s well being on and off the pitch. The feeling of pure elation after a big achievement and the feeling of complete sadness after a disappointment, both are far better when there’s care shown by everyone around. There might not be crying in baseball, as it were, but if there’s no crying (not out of fear or terror mind you) after the players feel like they’ve let each other down, in my opinion, the group as a whole, didn’t care enough.
Those that want to know, yes this season in terms of record was more successful, but I feel like that was a product of things we laid last year and in our pre-season this year. When it becomes all about the record, you've turned a bad corner, and many times, there's not going back.
Thanks for reading everyone, hope you all haven't missed me too much. More content coming your way in the months ahead, so until next time, go out there and get after it.
Jarrod Dyke, CSCS