6 Ways to get the most from your cricket team meetings
When done wrong, team meetings are a waste of time. I know. I spent years working in a big company who had the ability to make meetings about meetings last for hours for no reason.
So if you are going to have one make the most of it by doing it right. It's only respectful of the player's time.
When done right, they can be very useful, especially in teams where there are arguments brewing or factions forming. A good meeting can cut off these problems as well as making sure everyone knows what direction the team is going.
Let's not get geeky about meeting structures, but even the most informal gathering is going to need an agenda: Even if it is written on the back of a napkin.
The reason for an agenda is to keep things on track. Meetings can wander very easily away from the point and time can get wasted on minor issues. If you have an agenda you can refer back to it to redirect the meeting.
The other advantage of a printed agenda is that it stops people fiddling with phones and PDAs. The temptation to text, email or surf the web is ever great with all-singing electronic equipment but putting a piece of paper in someone hands makes things seem formal and important enough to put the Blackberry away.
Meetings are the ideal place to bring out gripes and problems. Deal with the little things up front and they don't turn into big ones further down the line. For example, in my team a few years ago we had a player who was talented but didn't do much to help around the club. This was breeding resentment from the players who always mucked in. It was discussed in a meeting and the player agreed to do more to help the atmosphere of the team.
The important thing here is to give everyone a chance to both air their views and come up with a solution. Some players don't say much in meetings but they may just be feeling shouted down. Take time to give everyone a chance to speak in an atmosphere based around solving problems rather than blaming each other for things going wrong.
As well as having an agenda, you need to keep control of the meeting so it doesn't spiral out of control with both time and topics. Chair the meeting with ruthless efficiency.
Generally it's a good idea to keep to strict times and wrap up each agenda point with 5 minutes to go. It also helps to keep at least 15-20 minutes at the end of a meeting to bring the meeting to a close with any actions needed by anyone.
Meetings are an excellent place to make tactical plans. It's a chance to get your heads together as a bowling and batting units to work out what tactics work best for you. The captain and coach should still have the final say of course, but the more suggestions you can make the better.
One good way to do this is to look at the opposition for the coming game and talk about the players who might cause you problems. The opposition's star batsman may have got a hundred against you last year but he may also be vulnerable outside off stump early on. Talking about it can bring everyone in line with your plans.
If you have a regular meeting it can very quickly get repetitive: Constant pleas from the captain to 'give it your all' eventually fall on deaf ears, even if the players know it's true. The solution is to only have a meeting when you need one and to keep it on theme when you do have it.
By all means get together once a week to discuss the upcoming game, but avoid chest-beating clichés. Most teams won't need to meet so often, if at all. Think of a team meeting as an option, not a requirement.
6. Remember: It's never going to be perfect
Meetings are always a bit messy. Don't worry if a tangent takes up too much time, someone doesn't turn up or you end up having an argument. By their very nature meetings can't improve you as a cricketer. They are planning and discussion sessions so avoid focusing on them obsessively. It's better to get 10% of something than 100% of nothing.