Despite placing each crew member on their respective team based on the results of objective measurement tests, the 2002 Army Crew JV Team consistently outperforms the Army Crew Varsity Team. Prepare an analysis addressing why the JV team outperforms the Varsity team and outline a plan of action to resolve the issues identified. Since it is an anomaly that a crew team picked based off of objective, numerical data will defy performance predictions, the analysis can serve as a guideline on how to handle similar situations in the future.
Over the course of the 2001-2002 crew season, an irrefutable difference in the performance of the JV and Varsity Crew Teams became visible. At the onset of the season, “most of the members were returning for another season” and “had achieved excellent performance during the previous spring.” Tests were conducted to “determine assignments to the Varsity and Junior Varsity boats.” Crew members underwent a series of individual strength, technique, and endurance assessments on the rowing ergometer and the “team average had improved compared to the previous year by 10 seconds.” During a week long, intensive training retreat in Atlanta, GA, but crew members were also evaluated on a “series of seat races” to determine their final placement. Once the results were analyzed, the top eight rowers were placed on the Varsity team and the bottom eight rowers were placed on the JV team. The Varsity team was expected to perform better than the JV team but the exact opposite occurred during the season. The JV team consistently triumphed over the Varsity team. With Nationals just weeks away, the Varsity and JV boats must be switched to reflect their performance. An analysis must be conducted to assess the best methods for implementing this change. This must be accomplished quickly in order to properly focus on the National competition that is only weeks away.
The four categories that determine success are “strength and conditioning, rowing technique, psychological dimensions, and program organizations.” While novice and intermediate coaches place a higher importance on technique and strength/conditioning, master coaches focus on psychological factors. This reveals that although strength, conditioning, and technique are important individual attributes for crew members, the dimensions of teamwork achieved through psychological adjustment is what is most important.
Since expert coaches place a higher premium on psychological factors, crew members have to “synchronize their rowing” with their teammates and become “attuned to one another with the common goal of crossing the finish line ahead of all other crews.” Crew members cannot settle for individual bests as the challenge. The glory lies in how well they can row in unison. This type of mental strength is ‘equivalent to eight guys all trying to do the perfect golf swing at the same time, altogether, 200 times in a row.’ The best rowers adapt to one another’s oar strokes and refrain from “adjusting their technique to compensate” for an error made by a fellow crew member. The trust they have to possess for one another is displayed by allowing a crew member who makes an error to correct it on his next oar stroke.
The matrix created by the Coach revealed that the Varsity team lacked a leader; one who would unite them with the common goal to win the race. The Varsity team had several ‘disruptors,’ or crew members that acted on individual interests. The JV team revealed no disruptors; crew members were not classified as acting on individual motives. During additional training conducted by the Center for Enhanced Performance, the Varsity team exhibited skepticism while the JV team embraced the training which was aimed at “training techniques designed to utilize the ‘beliefs, attitudes, and thinking habits that help develop the confidence, concentration, and motivation needed to achieve one’s full potential.’”
Upon demoting some of the Varsity rowers to JV rowers and promoting some of the JV rowers to Varsity rowers, the JV team continued to win. JV rowers did not want to be promoted due to the team dynamics they were leaving behind to join the Varsity team, who were, overall, still pursuing individual interests. This experiment revealed the issues with the Varsity team did not stem from any one rower, but had everything to do with the lack of team dynamics and conviction to compete for a shared goal.
Individual boat members can be switched around to determine the best match for a new Varsity and new JV team. Since it is close to the National competition, it may not be best to make crew members adapt to new persons on the team. On the other hand, it could provide a fresh start for comradery and teamwork amongst.
Training techniques initially introduced by the Center for Enhanced Performance can be reintroduced to allow Varsity crew members a final attempt at developing mental strength to support one another in achieving a common goal. However, the Varsity crew members can also reject the training and have their team dismantled, which could affect their performance at the JV level.
Since Nationals is three weeks away, reintroduce training techniques to allow Varsity crew members a final chance to embrace ”beliefs, attitudes, and thinking” that will assist them in achieving victory as a team. Allow up to one week for crew members to utilize the techniques to improve their functionality as a team. After one week, if there is no satisfactory improvement in performance, promote the entire JV team to Varsity and demote the entire Varsity team to JV. Proper focus should be given to those crew members who can function the best as a unit. The demoted Varsity team may sustain a heavy blow to their ego but should be encouraged to let the demotion become motivation for them to work together.