April 22, 2005, Newsletter Issue #211: SCHEDULING SMART

Tip of the Week

If the head coach is not the person primarily responsible for scheduling, it is important that extensive communication occur between the parties. It is, most probably, going to be the head coach who is judged by the team`s performance within the schedule, and specific goals must be put in place for the scheduling of games. These goals may change from year to year based upon the makeup of the team. A seasoned, veteran team may want to schedule a more difficult schedule that a young team that needs to learn and build confidence.
The types of games involved may be individual games, events, and tournaments.
Individual Games- These games are sometimes arranged every couple of years on a "home-and-home" basis, meaning each team takes turns hosting the game. these are the games that the scheduler has the most control over and can make a difference in the overall record of the team.
Events- Events (sometimes called "showcases", or "carnivals") are usually a series of single games on one day and at on venue. These are very good for special, regional matchups that may not normally occur. They also expose the athletes to a variety of teams and styles of play. Due to the nature of the event, it also attracts a large number of fans and even, sometimes, college recruiters.
Tournaments- A tournament usually guarantees 3-5 games and sometimes only counts as 2 contests. The number of tournaments allowable is limited, more often than not. When choosing a tournament a number of factors can be taken into consideration. There are tournaments everywhere and teams may wish to travel, which has its own benefits. The level of play varies greatly and the needs of the team should be determined. Winning on the road is enjoyable and provides for a good trip. On the other hand, losses are learning experiences and the hometown fans won`t be around to apply pressure as you learn those lessons.
The basic scheduling choices are really two-fold: First, you can create a difficult schedule and become more "battle tested" for the rigors of league play and the challenges of the playoffs. Secondly, a somewhat easier schedule can be constructed to allow the team to obtain a few more victories and develop a little bit of confidence. Both methods have their advantages, but also come with some pitfalls.
Playing a tougher schedule may result in more losses than normal, but the game-to-game combat against challenging competition teaches players what they need to do to get better. Maintaining a positive attitude is crucial and the process could be beneficial as the team improves looking toward league and the playoffs. Understand that the added losses will, no doubt, result in a lower ranking in the standings or polls. These are used, many times, to determine seedings come playoff time. If this method of scheduling is chosen, you can`t complain about the rankings because the intended result is: it just doesn`t matter who the team plays in the playoffs, as they have already seen the type of play that is required to advance. So they may start lower and have a more difficult road to follow - but they are ready for it.
On the other hand, a slightly less challenging schedule can have its advantages as well. A team can experience a certain level of success in beeing able to execute their game plan, and wins have a tendency to aid in the developing of confidence. Confidence can take a player, and a team, a long way. They may expect to succed and win - so they do. A very good record will undoubtedly improve a teams "ranking" and may get them an easier road in the playoffs. But beware - a schedule that is too simple may not provide the types of obstacles needed to prepare to defeat quality opponents. this may result in an earlier than expected departure from the playoffs, and a disappointing end to the season.
Which statement is true? To be the best you have to beat the best - or - To beat the best you have to think that you are the best. Maybe a little of both!

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