Pre-Match Team talks #1 – Big Game from You Today
In my son’s rugby playing years from 16-18 he would recount, on a weekly basis, the pre-match talk of his manager. As a reasonably good impressionist, for him and a number of his team mates, this was increasingly a source of some amusement.
The manager, an ex-player of more than modest playing ability, was not blessed with either bubbling communication skills or an innate knowledge of sports psychology. He approached the various elements of managing a colts rugby team from an honest, experiential standpoint, and probably appreciated that the minefield created for him by the wide spectrum of youth and its culture was almost always going to blow up in his face! Stoically, however, he stuck to his task….
Amusingly, his pre-match talk involved him addressing the lads by going down the team sheet one by one with the same opening line: “John Smith (pause for breath) – Big Game from you today,” and then next one: “Tommy Jones (pause for breath) – Big Game from you today.” As the players got to know him, this serious (for him) routine actually put them at their ease – because of the humour that my son’s coterie were able to put into the equation. Over post-match beers I once heard them discussing a reframed variant that went thus:- It was a hot afternoon on the Serengeti and the lions were sat around observing the herds of zebra and wildebeest grazing, when pride leader Old Leo turned to the others and started his team talk: “Simba – Big Game from You Today.”
With 18+ players to deal with this way, each with a little vignette outlining what was required of them, there was much time taken up to little overall effect it would seem. However, the point was always a positive one (if a little repetitive) and the message was certainly rammed home.
Increasingly, their results showed volumes as to how many of them DID regularly have big games. The team achieved a considerable amount both on and off the field, and their social cohesion was such that now, even ten years on, they are still a very close-knit crew, even though they are geographically scattered far and wide.