Saturday, June 21, 2008

A Bad Year...Sometimes It Happens

Thurston and his Cowboy teammates would be trying everything to get out of their funk.

The million dollar question around town right now is, “What is wrong with the Cowboys?”.

So many of us like to sit around tossing ideas back and forth about what we would do to ‘fix’ the team. But you know what? Sometimes your favourite team just has one of those bad seasons that they would rather forget and you could never predict. I think it is safe to say this is that year for our Cowboys.

Similarly, if you were to cast your mind back a few years to the Crocodiles team of 2005/06, we had arguably the most talented roster ever assembled in Townsville and could only manage a paltry 9-23 season.

What mystery factor is it that can cause such an unforeseen turn around when things just look so right on paper?

When a team is in the middle of one of these types of slumps, you will often see a good portion of dedicated players putting in extra time on the practice field in an attempt at rectifying the situation. Although it is easy for fans who see players once a week to forget, most of us have a lot of pride in what we do and never want to be embarrassed week in and week out.

Players aren’t alone in their search for the answer. If there is any coach who is not putting in extra time when their team is down, whether it be by spending extra time in on video or attempting to tweak the practice schedule, they should find another profession. These guys are usually desperate to find their way back to the winner’s circle.

I remember Coach Ian Stacker exhausting many avenues in his attempt to turn the ship. One example included schedule changes. His practice schedule for years had included two on court sessions a day. He knocked that back to one halfway through that 05/06 mess, hoping his players would respond because we would be fresher for games.

And the list of changes didn’t stop there. His pre-game motivational talks started to venture into previously uncharted waters, like watching Freddie Mercury and his band Queen perform or discussions of the great wars that helped shape our world.

The head coach will try anything to find a motivational technique that works for his troops.

So the point I am trying to make is that right now, individually, I would guess that most people involved in the Cowboys organization are putting in the effort that should be getting results. Unfortunately, when you are stuck in the middle of a season like this, all that effort can seem to compound the problem.

Again looking back to my own experience, our team would meet all too often to discuss how we were going to break out of our funk. It almost seemed that our every moment was spent concentrating on how we would fix the problem. I think this can become detrimental to the cause. There is a fine line between exploring a problem and dwelling on it.

So if I were to put in my two cents to the Cowboys, I would remind them that their skills have not suddenly been lost overnight. They have nothing more to lose, so maybe it is time to just play. There is something to be said for remembering to trust your instincts and for putting a hault to the over-analysis of ‘the problem’. Football is what many of these guys have been doing most of their lives.

And as a last resort, there is always the old saying, “Sometimes you need a bad year to appreciate the good ones”. It may not answer any of our questions about this season, but from a player’s perspective, nothing could be closer to the truth.

You can find my article in the Townsville Bulletin every Saturday.

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