Game days are the culmination of lots of work … over days, weeks, months, and even years. Game days are also amazingly fun. So here with post four of "I Love Coaching" month, let's talk about the five things that are awesome about game day.
- Preparation. I love watching video and figuring out the puzzle that the opposing teams represent. I enjoy putting together the practice plans to get ready for competition. The other puzzle that's fun to figure out is my team. What should I say to them to make sure they've got the right mindset for the game? Is there a story or anecdote that I can tell to fire them up / calm them down / show them I believe in them / keep them focused … whatever the situation calls for?
- Suiting up. Okay, I don't actually wear suits to coach in, but I love that show How I Met Your Mother and Barney says that all the time. As coaches, we don't have to put on a uniform (except for baseball, for whatever reason), so our game day attire is the way we can signal to our brains that it's time to bring it. Quirk alert: I wear brand new tops for each of our conference games … I will not wear an old one. Those tops are judged harshly as winners or losers based on the team's performance. Winners are worn in a non-conference competition at a later date … losers never see the light of competition again. This confession leads us quite nicely into the next topic.
- Superstitions. Obviously, my tops (while super cute) have no bearing on whether my team loses or wins a game … that little nugget of truth doesn't stop me from doing it year after year though! My assistant does fist bumps with some of the girls before every match. I have no idea how he chooses which players to connect with in that manner, but if he forgets, they yell at him to come and perform the superstitious act. To add to the insanity, certain players only wanted to do the fist bump when we were on certain sides of the court. It does not have to make sense, it just has to be consistent.
- Getting nervous. I still get butterflies in my stomach on game day. I'm not talking about crazy, like when I coached my very first game, nerves. But the healthy, this isn't a normal day (but game day!) Nerves. I fret over things I can't control (like whether or not my team is properly prepared) as well as things that are completely within my control (like whether I should have the same lunch I had when we won the last game). Everything calms down for me though, at …
- … the first whistle. It's magical, let me tell you! After the warmup music is turned off, lineups are announced, and the teams tell each other good luck … it's time to see if it all worked. If the preparation was adequate, if my outfit is a winner or loser, if we can respond to the moves being made by our opponent. I love watching my team execute the game plan, and seeing their faces when things go well, and their fortitude when they don't.
I'd love for you all to email me with what you love about game day … I'm sure it's interesting. Then I can put together a post compiling everyone's thoughts. Just let me know in your email if you mind me using your name.