Leader and Followers
Checklist for Captains and bench coaches.
Captaining and Co-captaining
We all have certain ideals of how we want things to unfold in order to work most effectively. However, when working with a partner (and with bench coaches) you will come to realize everyone has their own agenda for progress for this team. Constant communication with captains and bench coaches is very important. Random emails with bits of strategic ideas are wonderful. If it doesn’t spawn into a drill or if your ideas are not actually used in scrimmage, the fact that you’re confident enough to bring forth ideas will help build strong relations with your partners. The relationship you’re going to build with your co-captain and bench coaches is very important. You have to be willing to compromise ideas; debate and fight for/against skaters for rosters; agreeing to pull skaters from line-ups during a bout (due to injury or just trying strategic plays); agreeing to keep skaters in; suggesting new plays and changing skaters positions will have to be hashed out. Overall, disagreements will happen and should happen in order for this to be a healthy captain/bench coach relationship by allowing all opinions to be expressed.
Leading by example
You’re being watched by your skaters and are being held responsible for your actions. How you deal with a situation before, during and after a game (or scrimmage practice) is what the skaters will unknowingly follow and ‘grade’ you on. In this category, leading by example also means coming to practice [attendance], doing the job you expect from others, participation in drills and scrimmage, the ability to give feedback when skaters ask for it and respectful mannerisms when responding to the refs and other skaters. Don’t expect your skaters to give that extra 10% during endurance if you’re sitting on the bench taking your skates off. Skaters want to be able to rely on their captains as being tougher and stronger than they are.. they need someone as their goal to beat in endurance drills as well as during scrimmage.
Once you’ve been elected captain, hold a meeting to let skaters give input. Let them know they have a voice and it’s important for them to share their opinions.
Some suggestions would be:
– have the skaters talk about their preferred pack positions
– ask the skaters how they like to receive feedback
– ask them what things they feel they need to work on
– ask them what strengths they feel they can bring to the team
– ask them how frequently they would like to meet
– ask them what are the best nights for meetings
– get a feel from your skaters to see if their goal of the team is to win the games, or for training purposes or to have equal playing time
– ask them how what their goals are for their individual advancements
Understanding your opponent
Research the league you’re about to play by means of YouTube, personal emails to skaters on that league or skaters that have played that league, find out what their strengths and weaknesses are, read write-ups of their past games on their websites or join public forums for their leagues, read Derby News Network bout recaps, visit their websites and familiarize yourself with their faces, look through flikr and analyze photos of them skating (are they standing up right, do they tend to bend at the waist, do they look winded, are their hips exposed for easy take downs).
Choosing the roster
Availability will of course reign supreme. But if you have choices, how should you narrow down the selection?
Some of the things I look for: attendance, participation during practice (ahem.. especially during endurance and scrimmage practices!!!), make note of skaters level of determination, response to feedback and suggestions, choose skater positions and make sure you have enough of certain positions (example: how many B3’s do I have on my roster? How many Pivots? How many jammers? Do all my jammers play the same blocking position? If so, what other skaters can I choose to mainly play their blocking position if they need to be subbed?..).
After you chose your roster, start playing with line-ups. Create pairs/trios; get a feel of what skaters work well with each other; make note of skaters’ natural playing style (ex: Debbi DownHer naturally plays offense. Killa Whatt? naturally plays defense. Hmmm.. what would happen if I tried both of them together?). Work with your bench coaches and ask them to run the line-ups for you while you scrimmage. Encourage feedback from your coaches and skaters after practices. What worked? What didn’t? Who do you feel you work well with? If there is footage of the scrimmage, review and readjust line-ups if need be.
Set small attainable goals for yourself and the skaters. Every skater has an idea of what they need to work on but some skaters need that extra voice from the outside to keep them on track. If a skater doesn’t know what they need to work on, suggest something you feel they need to work on. Give praise for the small actions they’re changing… or attempting to change even if not accomplished.
Encourage peer to peer training
Delegating training to other skaters will benefit all. Don’t be a control freak!
Below are excerpts from skaters about what they want from their captains:
– “captain: feedback. training. what can i do better? what am i good at? what do i need to work on? and ATTENDANCE and participation at practice. set an example. oh, and communication and availability.”
– “I expect my captains to be organized, honest, and regard the game as fun. Sometimes I have seen captains get too focused on winning and lose track of fostering the team they have.”
– “Captain is:
understands the game, and can share their experience and insight
is a mentor to newbies
has a passionate desire to win, but still focused on team growth.
is a good listener, and communicator
can give feedback in a clear manner, and tailor the delivery to individual team mates.
can assist the bench coach in creating line-ups, making draft decisions, and any other issues that impact the team.
can help each skater reach their personal derby goals”
– “What do you want from your captain?
-Firm and fair leadership
-Exercises for off practice days”
– “Leading by example; expecting from herself what she expects of her teammates. Being prepared for practice, with lineups and/or drills. Providing opportunities for the skaters to provide feedback and implementing the feedback, when possible. Respect for all players, regardless of skill level. Can offer compliments as easily as criticisms.”
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