After the first few weeks of the 2011 fall sports season, I imagine some are in panic mode about their favorite teams, whether it’s a grade school, middle school, high school, college or professional team. Maybe a poor start or some ugliness on the field/court, but it has not been the start of the season coaches, players and fans dreamed of during the preseason. If this sounds like familiar territory, here is one word of advice: PATIENCE. Give the coaches and the players a chance to find themselves. Give them a chance to establish their footing in the whirlwind disappointing start to the season.
Building a team is a little like making a homemade puzzle. The coach envisions the team he wants to build from the players he has available. He creates the best picture he can using all the players on the team. The vision is done and it looks promising. Now it’s time to take the jigsaw to it and cut it into pieces. A very talented, very experienced team cuts into big easy-to-fit pieces, like a Mickey Mouse preschool board puzzle. As the raw talent and experience level decreases, though, the pieces become increasingly complex in shape and number.
But, this is not going to be a calm, relaxing Sunday afternoon leisurely putting the puzzle back together. Practice starts and all the puzzle pieces are placed on one of those electric football fields from the kick butt sports game of the 1970’s. The switch is turned on, the board vibrates and all the pieces move around the field. The team cut into the big, easy-to-fit pieces slides into its place in the big picture easier and faster to make the complete team everyone envisioned. A team ready to roll. The other teams, the ones with complex shapes and many pieces take more time to aggregate into that team everyone dreams about. They need to put in the work and focus harder on coming together. Unfortunately, sometimes it never really comes together into a picture full of grace and beauty.
If your team puzzle picture never really comes together, don’t be discouraged, don’t raise Cain, don’t fly off the handle, just stay patient and enjoy the parts which are good. Never forget, that although the team did not have the season people dreamed of, those are still some pretty damn important player pieces out there working their tails off.
Finally, remember that in sports, as in life, it is not how you start, but how you finish and compete that is important.