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Last week John Mcilroy posted his latest research summary ‘Bringing New Members Into Your Team’ . The research from Canada used theories from business to describe a mix of formal and informal processes that any coach could adopt to manage the smooth transition of new players into a team.
I’m interested to know what you do.
How do you integrate new players into your teams/training groups?
some athletics clubs have beginners junior groups which I think is great. What I did as head junior coach, I had a waiting list where I could start all new athletes and assess them for the first 6 weeks then move the athlete to the next stage or distribute to coaches. Giving them the 6 weeks in the beginner's group helps the new commer get to know each other as well as myself getting to know the child, learn about what athletics is all about what they can achieve and what happens after the 6 weeks, eg competitions, learning new and exciting skills, 365 achievement awards that they can show to teachers and friends in school. The 6 weeks gives both the parents and athletes time to decide if they wish to continue with athletics or if they wish to join the club.
Great topic. This is something that occurs every year within my environment. Each new season there are always new players who are not only transitioning into our performance centre, but into a new environment entirely.
Every year I encourage some games during the first few training sessions to help the new players relax. Even though the environment is an elite in environment, I believe it is vital to allow the player to relax into the environment and become comffortable in order to allow the player to reach their potential. The games work well and it gives all the players some bonding time after the summer break.
Before the christmas break I also conduct a 'parents evening' whereby parents/guardians and players have a meeting with myself and the coach of their age group to go through what we think of the player and how they're progressing. But more importantly to allow them to discuss how they feel within the environment.
the knowledge we have of our players and athletes is vital in order to know how to help them flurish within the sport.
You'll notice throughout this entire peice of writing and many others that I use the word 'players or athletes', I know other coaches are also guilty of this. However, it is very important that we remeber that they are young people and in order to develop them as players we must first learn what makes the indiviaul tick as a human beings.
In my experience and learning from mistakes as a younger coach I think the best thing to do is .. do less!
I tried too hard to force a bond between a new player and exsiting memebers to almost get them up to speed too early and it didn't work, it was too false.
Reading John's summary I agree about the team ownership and informal learning. If I look at my U17 team, a large number of them have been together for some time and I can see that it may be difficult for someone new to integrate into that. But almost by leaving them to it I can see whether they deem a newcomer worthy. Some will be more accepting straight away and some will test the newcomer for longer. They may base their assessment on many things more than just footballig ability.
There is also a responsibility on a new player. I've ones come and go because they have a poor mentality. They expect to waltz in and with little to no effort become a starter and gain the respect of team mates even if they don't warrant it.
I will often discuss players who come to try with exisiting members and that helps give them the ownership over the team. Do they think a newbie would add value to their team? We're going through this exact process now - a work colleague's son who guested for us last summer has now joined the team permanaently.
It's not easy being a newcomer into an established group who have all forged strong bonds.
I assign a trusted senior to act as a 'mentor' type of role. Someone who can look out for the newcomer and try to smooth the integration process but also be a sounding board that the newcomer can go to if needed
Landing on this topic while skimming through...this is something important to us (UK, Student level sport). Each year we have veterans graduate, who are replaced by new players starting uni. Therefore the turn over is constant. Given the (usual) 3yr cycle we have with a player, we have to integrate them as fast as possible.
In line with some of the above, to an extent we leave the players to do that themselves. Between coaches and the club, we have set the culture that we want to achieve and abide by. Then, when new players come in they are brought into that culture by existing players.
The student committee of the club make it very clear what it means to be part of the team, and this is then reinforced by coaching staff (as we were involved in its design anyway). As American Football is very position based we have positional leaders that work on creating a sense of unity within their group, that then transcends upwards.
From a coaching point of view, we make sure that we are there to support where needed if a player is struggling. We also make it clear that teams are selected on merit not on the number of years you have played. Everyone knows that - returning players know that they have to re-earn their spots on the team. So everyone knows they legitimately can make the starting team based on effort and ability.
So to sum up...a new player is brought in and
a) has a positional support structure/network led a senior player
b) has a positional coach to provide support
c) understands that effort and ability will lead to game time
d) understands what the culture of the club is and is given clear expectations of acceptable behaviour
and being a student with associated team social events kinda helps as well!
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