Thursday, July 19, 2007

Do the basics before going into tackles (managementsouth)

Do the Basics Before Flying into Tackles

I enjoyed dinner with my wife one recent Friday and was about to turn in when I remembered the Crusaders were playing the Western Force in Perth.
What a great nightcap, I thought, to watch the Crusaders run in five or six tries over the next 10 minutes before I went to bed.
I thought we would win by about 100 points - top team plays the bottom, that sort of thing.
I couldn't believe my eyes when I turned on the TV. The Force were in front and they certainly looked good. They were matching with our guys in every department.
I got a bit more anxious and stayed up. Surely the Crusaders would soon hit their straps and run away with it, they usually do. But it just wasn't happening. Somehow they weren't doing the basics right and this led to all sorts of problems.
It seemed to me that our Crusaders might have taken this all too lightly. It may not have been conscious with them but when you are playing the bottom team there is probably that element that says let's get these guys out of the road and keep the body intact because we have some real tough ones coming up in South Africa as soon as we leave here.
The Crusaders ended with an undeserved, or at least lucky draw. I reckon the Force deserved to win.
I had my first experience of playing rugby back in the 1960s when I spent a year on a sheep and cattle station up the Waitaki Valley in North Otago. And I was awful at it.
The local Kurow team was short so I somehow got forced into the ranks. I told the coach I had nothing to offer but he reckoned that if I just stayed out on the wing it would all be OK.
It was, thanks to a guy who was to become a great friend and an All Black, Phil Gard. Phil played inside me at centre. He was so brilliant he just passed the ball to me, ran around and I passed it to him, and got out of the way. Sadly Phil died of cancer at only 42 years of age.
The half back and captain of the Kurow team at the time was a guy named Barney, an excellent player with a real talent for coaching. I hadn't seen Barney for quite a few years and since my wife and I were heading down that way recently we decided to call in and have a chat.
It was most enjoyable and while there Barney's wife showed me a recent article from the Otago Daily Times. It was an interview with Richie McCaw who is now the local hero from the area. McCaw was singing the praises of Barney mainly because Barney coached McCaw and his mates from age five to nine. "What he did was teach us the basics so well," said McCaw.
I asked Barney how he did this. He said it wasn't hard, but he was determined to get these youngsters into good habits right from the start. For example, with tackling, he started off with the kids having to kneel down with one of the team members tackling them. Barney showed the tackler where his head should be and how to position his body. After they had mastered that and taken turns, the next phase was to repeat the process standing, then walking and finally running. Once they had executed the tackle they had to get back on their feet as quickly as possible.
In the end Barney said because they had gone through the process slowly and had learned the principles and basics well they all became great tacklers, and they all became good at getting to their feet after making the tackle, which is essential in today's rugby. And this is why Richie McCaw is so good. He always had extra talent said Barney, but the basics were the thing.
Where is this all heading when we relate it to organisations and Super 14 football?
The first thing I would say is that when we are teaching new skills in organisations we often fail to go through the process logically.
Too often people get chucked in the deep end and are asked to do flying tackles before they have done the basics, and learned where to put their heads. Sometimes we assume they know the basics and we don't have to take any action. If we are guilty of this we will never produce top players.
Of course there is no question about whether the Crusaders know the basics. Chances are they had the benefit of coaches like Barney in their formative years. But we know that job efficiency is a combination of two things - productive skills and constructive energies. If either one is low, so will be the job efficiency.
The other night we saw an excellent example of a group of individuals who were world-class in productive skills yet because on the night their constructive energies were not up to scratch, we saw a big drop in the execution of those skills and overall job efficiency.
I guess a wake up call like that does us all good from time to time.

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