Monday, November 28, 2005

"You have to catch that, Bitch"

I was walking past Frisbee Central at Devens Field a few years ago during Easterns. I was going to get one of those steak tip sandwiches that they sell at the Boston Invite. As I walked past field 8, I noticed that Ring was playing Dog B (or X....whatever). Just as I approached the end zone, Ring put up a huge huck to one of their young, tall, fast guys. I remember thinking "there's a goal". The young guy was just past half field as the disc went over his head in that nice, floaty, "go get the goal" kind of way, but, just at this moment, a nice gust of wind took the disc quickly toward the end zone. It became clear that the catch was not going to be certain at all. The young kid, and Ray Parrish, who was about 10 yeards behind the young kid, both realized that he was going to run FAST. I guess in order to provide motivation, Parrish started to yell at the kid "Go get that, bitch", and "You have to run that down, bitch". It seemed to help as the kid shifted into another gear. He reaches the end zone line as the disc starts to die, and goes fully horizontal about waist high. His fingertips touch the disc, but both the disc and the kid crash to the earth. No catch. No goal. Ray, who is trailing the kid, straddles the kid, leans over, and yells "You have to catch that, Bitch!"

I brought this story back to my humble little div 2 corporate team a few days later. We decided, after much debate about cross-gender bitch calling, that we would work in "You have to catch that, Bitch" as much as possible over the course of the season. I think folks took us a lot more seriously as a result.


Vassar said...

Done that, had that done to me before and for me, it's not a big deal.....Must be a NC thing.

I learned to play from one of the best/worst "yellers" in the game and he used his criticisms, unwittingly I think, to weed out the players that weren't mentally tough enough to play for him and in his style. The secret is to not take it personally and realize that the yeller is usually wanting you to perform better in a tough love sort of way. Hard to explain but it either works or it doesn't and in hindsight it scared away a bunch of athletes from playing with the Seamen. At the same time, if we could face G 3 days a week then playing in Sunday's finals was cake.

I think the big question behind your post is "How do I motivate a teammate?" or something to that degree. Obviously, not everyone wants to be the "bitch" but there are a lot of people who don't mind or like hearing what their teammates think. For example, at a tournament this summer we had a hell point featuring 4-5 turnovers and a handful of easy shots at the end zone that never connected. I let out a "Have some fucking patience" at a teammate who scored later in the point and then thanked me for getting on him. It wasn't personal but the situation sucked and he knew me well enough to know I wasn't mad or yelling at him.

Conversely, I've been on a team where there was virtually no communication and no feedback. That's bad. In fact, I think that's worse than the name calling and yelling. At least with the names, you know where your play stands.

The difference is in how well you know your teammates. If I hear the "bitch" comment while at a pickup game where no one is all that familiar with each other then that's not going to go over real well. If it's after 6 weeks of summer practices and from a friend then its completely different. I'm not trying to judge how you perceived the comment but it's definitely a context thing.

One last thing...Do you think the kid who got yelled at used that experience to do anything different the next time around and do you think he forgot it? For some, that's big time fodder for motivation and can help improve their game.

gcooke said...

Hey Vassar,

Thanks for the comments. I appreciate your perspective. I do like having players that will "keep me honest". In 03, Johnny Luv was great as he reminded me to keep things in check, and got pissed if I made bad decisions.

I agree that no comments or feedback is not helpful.

In terms of your question, I am not sure. It was such an over the top moment. I hope the kid was able to get back on the horse.

Edward Lee said...

Vassar's comment reminds me of a paragraph from DoG's playbook:

"For many people, screaming at them is an effective motivator, but for others, it's a spirit crusher. We should all have thicker skins, but that's not the way some people work. Just be a little thoughtful when you're calling one of your teammates an asshole."