Colleges are just starting to open up again which means frisbee practice is starting up again. I’m always a little torn at the beginning of each season. On the one hand I want to push the ladies to work so they can improve, but I’m always afraid of scaring off the new players. Here are some random thoughts about player retention.
One of my coaching mottos, stolen from Pete Carrill’s book The Smart Take from the Strong, is expect more get more. Carrill’s idea is that a coach should never allow a player to get complacent. We as coaches should continue to present new challenges for our players. Obviously, we need to be realistic with this - it’s not going to be helpful for us to make demands on a player that they can never achieve. But we want to always be pushing our players. I’ve had players tell me that I’m never satisfied with the way they play. I tell them that I’ll be satisfied when they’ve reached their maximum potential as a player – of course seeing as they’ve only played at most five years, they’ll probably reach this maximum potential long after they’re playing on my team. Last year, in appreciation of my approach to coaching, the ladies got me this book, which I think really sums up the amount of respect I get – but I digress.
In any event, it’s perhaps counterintuitive, but I actually think that starting the season with a serious attitude actually leads to higher player retention. When you think about what kind of people we’re trying to attract I think it makes more sense. The players who are going to be most successful are the players who are most interested in working hard. When we start off the season by just goofing off and trying to make sure everyone is having a good time we actually run off these types of people. Last year, I had a girl who had played field hockey her whole life quit the club field hockey team to play ultimate. The reason she gave was that they just weren’t hardcore enough. If we start the season with the attitude that we take what we do seriously we will attract the more serious people. Anyway, I’ll probably have run all the new players off by week two, but we’ll see how it goes.