It Just Gets Harder And Harder


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A mental block appears when a team is on a losing streak. Coaches need to change practice sessions quickly otherwise the team will never recover.

I was watching the Tour de France today or part of it anyway and one of the commentators mentioned something that bought back nightmares. He mentioned the harder you try at something the less likely you are to succeed.

When I was playing Rugby many moons ago we lost quite a few players to other clubs poaching them. We were getting paid and also working our day jobs at the same time then. Today you can't do both as it would be impossible to be that committed to both and something would suffer.

I had a good job for my age back then working for a cigarette company of all things. Sports and smoking was not looked upon badly like it is now. The company worked for sponsored most events from rugby,formula one,horse racing and the list was endless as I could go on and cover virtually every imaginable sport known to man.

The season that year was a struggle as we were developing a much younger team and were what you might call in a rebuilding phase. In those days I could literally run for hours and did. Our practice days started out as Tuesday and Thursday in the evening after work with league matches on the Saturday and cup games on a Wednesday. The more successful you were by staying in the cup rounds the harder it became.

As a team we didn't start off that well as we lost players to poaching plus the Provincial Sharks players we had were excused. I can recall we had about 5 provincial players in total so that is a third of the side lost before we had even started. This was normal so that is why you have a large squad giving you depth covering for instances like that.

We were knocked out of our cup competition in about the third or fourth week so that wasn't a big problem and was a blessing really. Doing sport 4 days a week at that level plus holding down a job is really tough. There were days I would hobble into the office and still be hobbling that evening as practice started again. You tend to run off injuries as your body warms up and they disappear until your muscles cool down again.

Our coach decided to add Wednesday as an extra practice day so we could turn our league form around. Nothing changed and it made the team worse in my opinion as everyone was physically knackered. Then Monday was added which was insane and we couldn't really complain as if we wanted to be paid on Saturday this is what you had to do.

The harder everyone tried the harder everything became and you just lose all focus. In theory what should have happened is the forwards and backs should have been split onto separate days coming together one evening per week. The team had lost all confidence in their abilities and it was not enjoyable being part of that squad. When other players around you have less experience and talent they should not be relying on a few of us to carry them as it is a team sport. What happens is you end up doing more of the physical work getting mullered by the opposition being treated like a punching bag for 80 minutes.

So ultimately when a team is in trouble it doesn't mean you have to train harder, but more like train smarter. We never trained to our strengths and that is down to coaching and tactics. There is so much one can do on motivational and physiological development which I never saw then. I understand when I see teams struggling and why coaches get the boot as it is down to them to get the best out of their players.This is why in many instances teams will change their coach and will perform for one or two games achieving what the sacked coach was so desperately trying to do.

The answer is to just be smarter and be more calculated in how you manage people. Every team and every player has a breaking point that will never change no matter how hard you want something it just becomes a distant dream.

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Losing streaks are the worst. Living in Michigan I am very familiar with them. Our sports teams are generally pretty horrible lately. Lots of losing streaks happening.

This is why a good coach must also be a psychologist. The player's psyche is very important and only comes behind their skills. If skillful players are psychologically down, they will never live up to their skills. Good coaches resign voluntarily when they have run out of options to psyche their players up and the losing streak won't just stop.

That is absolutely true and why teams bounce back immediately in most cases when someone new takes over. Players respond differently to various methods of coaching.