Sunday, April 24, 2016

The Twinkee effect

Today we will talk about uniforms and accessories.   What is needed and what is just a wasted expense.

OK, I am an old guy.  

I remember when the Soviet Olympic team used to march into a competition wearing their matching warmups with matching gym bags.   It was impressive.  Still, as we approach the Olympics in Brazil this summer, I have this vision of gymnastic teams walking into a competition looking identical.  Sort of the ultimate "Twinkees" or whatever the slang would be for 7 girls who look identical.

The question is: how much, if anything, is it worth to have your team come into an event looking the same?

To me, the answer is it isn't worth a single thing.  Your warmups don't play the match, you do.  Your gym bag doesn't block a ball, you do.   So why do clubs require all this extra, costly gear?  There are really two reasons I can think of:

a. Some clubs think that it makes their club look more professional if they dress all the same in sharp-looking attire.  We have beaten a lot of teams over the years that were sharply dressed

b. I think that some clubs get a discount if they buy a 'package' from a vendor.  Certainly, in large clubs, buying in bulk really can save you money.  Unfortunately, this is for stuff you don't really need.  Yeah, if I could get a $1500 set of golf clubs for $1000 I could save $500.  But do I really need to be spending $1000 on new clubs?

The question in the minds of parents should be: does any of this make my son or daughter a better player?   The answer I have heard that clubs tell people "This is our mandatory uniform package" or "This is the way our club does it" is simply not a good enough reason for people to spend hundreds of dollars on stuff they don't really need.

I can tell you from 30 years of coaching experience that it doesn't.  In our club this year our uniform package was just two jerseys and one pair of spandex shorts.    The cost, with lettering and numbering was not cheap, being about $80 a player.  Still, this pales in comparison to the cost of uniform packages for other clubs, a number of them who we finished ranked higher than this year.   My thought is that you get what you need.  You need two jerseys (so you can have a libero) and one pair of briefs/shorts.  Other than that, most kids have a gym bag and a sweat shirt and sweat pants (my kids won't even wear sweatpants!) they can use.  If their coach wants them to wear a t-shirt over their jersey before a match everyone has a t-shirt.   BTW, no team I have ever coached wore t-shirts before a match and we did just fine. 

I'll leave you with this thought.   When you are getting to a gym at 7:00 in the morning and players are trickling in one at a time and parents are fighting to down that first cup of coffee just to keep their eyes open, how much do you think it matters that your warmups and bags don't match?   This is not the Olympics, it is not primetime TV and no one is watching.  Now, once the whistle blows, THAT is when people ARE watching, when the warmups and gym bags are stacked neatly in the corner of the facility or in the hallway, far from where the match is played.
Next we will tackle coaching pay.

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