We know that cell phones are a constant in our lives…many of you are probably reading this on a mobile device right now! Whether checking in on the big game, posting a picture of a championship win, or even completing athlete evaluations, cell phones are in our hand most of the time.
Cell phone usage is equally as important to our kids and this dependency is a hot topic in education systems, social gatherings and organized club atmospheres. More and more situations arise where the question is asked, “are cellphone adding value or limiting success for participants?”. It is no surprise how top of mind this conversation is. In a recent Nielson Report, the study suggests that approximately 45% of US children have their own smart phones with a service plan by the time they are 10-12 years old. With children having full data and phone habits at such a young age, it is only logical that they have found a place in locker rooms. Due to the competitive nature of sport the question now becomes, “what effect does this mobile use have on the dressing room dynamic?”.
Here are our tips for implementing a proactive cell phone policy in dressing and locker rooms:
1) Include the entire coaching team in developing a cohesive cell phone plan
Set rules as an entire coaching staff. Spend time with the other coaches on your team to come up with a smart, team specific plan that caters towards the age and competition level of your athletes. Within this planning session, ask the following question:
- Will it be a zero tolerance, or will your rules look a little more lenient?
- Will rules be different for game day versus a regular practice?
- Who will you rely on to monitor the situation and how will the strategy alter team dynamics?
- What will be the consequences be for breaking the rules?
- Will there be any exceptions to the rule and in order to gain those exceptions, what will the process be?
By coming up with a cohesive plan, potential problems can be ironed out. In addition, the cell phone situation will be a lot easier to control with all coaches being united up front.
2) Discuss the rules in detail with parents as early as possible
Communication is the most important aspect of a positive team dynamic. Discuss the rules that the coaching team has put in place as soon as they are established. Most teams have a parent meeting prior to the season beginning. Add it as an agenda item and discuss it in a formalized setting. Encourage parents to talk to their young athlete at home, and ask for their support in the policy. Use regular follow ups via your team management portal, recognizing that parents will appreciate inclusiveness and continued communication.
3) Discuss with players
Outline the cellphone policy at the first practice or team get together. By having a proactive conversation with the team, you will encourage them to be a part of the solution instead of it looking as though they are creating a problem. It is important to communicate that you don't think cell phones are bad- as a coach in 2018, you recognize that they help to motivate many athletes via videos, music, or following along with their favourite professional players. We know first hand the benefits of team social accounts! Instead of coming from a negative place, explain that the goal is to increase focus and create a positive dressing room culture. The rules will be met with different levels of enthusiasm by different players and personalities... take the time to answer questions openly and encourage feedback from the players.
4) Stand by the rules you've set
The season is bound to get busy and your time will be spent solving defensive issues, or trying to get more points on the board. Even through the chaos of the season, don’t forget why these rules were put in place! By following through on your actions you will earn the respect of players. At the end of the day remember that youth sports are just as much about building character as it is about the score in the game. By showing integrity in following through what you said you will, you will help to develop character and lead by example.
Although Snapchat and Instagram use in locker rooms is something that most coaches try to avoid, there is no denying that technology helps the sport world. There is a time and a place for all things technology. We are proud to offer the most affordable and user friendly evaluation app on market that is helping organizations all across the nation. We encourage you to Schedule a Demo and see how we can offer an affordable and comprehensive tool for your next evaluations!
That’s all for now... See you next time on SharkBites!