Friday, July 8, 2011

Your Hard Work is not My Hard Work

I went to Eugene yesterday hoping to play some mini, even though I'd been told it wasn't going to happen. Thinking it would start at 530, I got to Roosevelt around 545 only to find out it wasn't due to start until 630. I threw with a couple of guys for twenty or thirty minutes and no one else had shown up yet. Irritated and bored, I went over to South to run repeat 800s on the track. For fun. Because I was bored. Your hard work is not my hard work.

A few years ago, a friend of mine asked me if I'd offer some advice to a young, up-and-coming team she'd been doing work with. I said sure and began an email correspondence. I found out their leaders were very gung-ho and motivated, but the rank-and-file of the team less so. They had a big meeting at the beginning of the fall laying out team goals and everyone said they were in. Yet attendance at track practice was woeful. It turned out their captain (like me) had run track in high school and liked running track workouts. He was both more motivated and enjoyed running.

My advice to him fell into three parts. First, recognize the situation and the difficulties it entailed. Second, structure opportunities for people to do hard work that they enjoy. Does half the team hate running? Set up a mini game instead. Schedule a structured throwing program like Kung-Fu Throwing. Lastly, expect to build buy-in slowly over the course of the year. The advantage that a program like Carleton or Stanford Superfly enjoys is that when you sign up, you are signing up for a ton of hard work. A developing team will struggle with this because many of the players didn't sign up for a ton of work. They signed up to run around, throw the frisbee and drink beer. Sprints? Uh-uh. AM throwing sessions? Nope. Weight room? Not interested. It takes time to convert individuals and teams to a new mindset. Often, this process extends across seasons as the personnel on the team change over. The less motivated graduate or retire and are replaced by the more motivated.

Leaders, it is important that you understand what it is you are asking of your team. Make sure that you have built the motivational foundation that will support the work you are asking to be done.


  1. Great post, Lou. Couldn't agree more.

  2. i'd like to know about Kung Fu Throwing too - this situation feels very much the same as our team's.

  3. Here's the link to the KungFu throwing post :