Supporting Inter County / Recreational Teams
Within inter-county and/or recreational teams there may exist a wide range of commitment and skill/knowledge levels of players, parent coaches, and parents. These issues may provide some challenges such as division in the team, stagnation in player growth, create frustration in coaches, and ultimately damage the team’s success. In order to best support and manage the team, utilizing concepts of emotional intelligence, situational leadership, and commitment impacts could benefit the overall health of the team.
Emotional intelligence is the idea of being attuned to and considering self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, and relationship management. In relation to sports, it is the backbone of the concept “attitude is everything”. Natasha Hawkins talks about assessing not only the skills of players but also their attitudes (Building a Better Athlete: Improve Performance with Emotional Intelligence, 2013). This is true on all sport teams, but particularly important when working with inter-county and recreational teams who may be less connected as a team. We, as trainers and coaches, must learn what “makes players tick” in order to inspire the best performance
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Just as each player is emotionally different and motivated in unique ways, there is not one cookie cutter way to lead a group. Situational leadership states simply “one size does not fit all”. There are many different ways to lead a team, based on the individuality of each player – skill level, emotional maturity, motivation, etc. Ken Blanchard and Paul Hersey, the leading researchers on situational leadership, say that the most effective leadership may be a combination of supportive and directive behaviors. These tie back to being emotionally intelligent and attuned with your players, to know how best to lead them.
Billy Donovan, the Thunder Coach, claims there are three types of commitment levels. The first is verbal, which says, “I’m going to do something”. Physical commitment is the next, which is actually participating in events. The third is an emotional commitment that brings a connection and responsibility to others. On all teams, these varying commitment levels may exist. On inter-county and creational team, the differences may be more striking than that of travel teams due to the expected participation levels. Ideally a team functions best when all players are emotionally committed and invested to the process.
- If you want more commitment from your team, then use the word “commitment” more often when you talk to them (Eric Hoffberg)
In order to “convince” all of our players to be at an emotional commitment level to the team, we must use emotional intelligence to inform our situational leadership. These are some methods may be useful:
- Find the more skilled players are ask them to be leaders
- Learn each players individual strengths and weaknesses, highlight the strengths
- Speak honestly about weaknesses and show practical ways to improve and succeed
- Find the common denominator from which to build the team