Team Selection for School Teams
Team selection for school teams can be a tricky business. It requires you to walk a fine line of ensuring teams are competitive, that everyone in the squad feels like they have a chance to be selected, that you have no favourites and that above and beyond you value effort and pupils character over natural talent and physical ability. Tricky as I said. Students can get upset about team selection (as well as parents). It is hugely important to record attendance at training and also how many fixtures students play. However good I was at this it did lead to issues. When reading a blog post on trying not to judge talent, I came across this little nugget of advice:
So I went about trying to incorporate that into my coaching and team selection. I have found it to be very successful. Not only in terms of giving feedback to students, but clarifying team selection in my own mind and ensuring I am able to explain it to distressed students or justify it to irate parents. It also has had the added benefit of improving the focus, intensity and quality of my training sessions. What I was achieving in 1.5 hours before hand, I seem to be achieving in 40 minutes.
This is a copy of my training log from Cricket last term.
Firstly you need to define what effort is to the students. You can use it to try to ensure the key areas you want students to concentrate within training. For me the following are key for training so this is what I define as effort:
- Getting out to practice as quickly as possible
- Tacking responsibility for warm-up, equipment and water bottles
- Ensuring you have correct equipment
- Listening to instructions, advice or feedback from the coach or peers
- Offering support, motivation and encouragement mate to team mates
- Staying focus on the task at hand and not distracting peers
- Working to the best of their ability, not their team-mates
I explain to my team that of course it will be subjective, but it will be my decision in the end. This will be non-negotiable as it will be my standards they will have to try and meet.
Secondly I explain the scoring system.
5 – Excellent Effort. This is required to start in the team.
4 – Very good effort. This is required to be in a match day squad.
3 – Average. This is acceptable, however you will only be considered for the match day squad if there isn’t enough players available.
2 – Poor. You will not be considered for selection for the next game.
1 – Unacceptable. This will require you to clean up and sort out the equipment after practice. You will not be considered for the next game.
AA – Authorised Absence. I request students give me at least 48 hours notice if they are going to be absent.
UA – Unauthorised Absence. No prior notice was given for the absence, therefore you will not be considered for the next game.
Recording and Sharing
I recorded the data via excel on my iPad, during the session or immediately after it whilst it is still fresh in my mind. It’s important to stay on top of it. However this season for rugby and lacrosse I have been using Idoceo to do this. I’m sure there are many other ways, including the simple old pen and paper method. The reason why I use an electronic device is that I then share it on the school VLE. All pupils can see what I think of their effort in training, why they are being selected or not. I did think this would actually cause more problems for me, but I’m yet to have one complaint about this from either student or parent. I have found a benefit – it creates a little bit of competition within the squad – who is the squad member who has the best average ‘effort’ mark over the season. It also helps me choose who player of the season is, which I can base on effort, not just ability.
Finally if I pick students in the match day squad I will play them. For rugby, football, lacrosse or cricket this means either a full half or batting/bowling no matter whether it is a friendly, league or national cup game. You pick a student, they must play no matter the result, especially if they travel to an away game. The obvious issue here is to try and manage your teams emotions and reactions in defeat.
I’d be interested to hear any feedback to this method of team selection. Do you use something similar or something completely different? Can you recommend a way I can improve my team selection? Let me know if you give it ago and if it works for you. Good luck.