Mandatory Training

Parents sometimes ask me, is the ___ training session mandatory? (They probably think it’s a yes or no question.)

Let me first share a few less-complex questions:

  1. Are players expected to attend all their team’s training sessions? Yes, when healthy.
  2. If a player cannot make their team’s training session, should they let the coach know? Yes.
  3. If a player cannot make their team’s training session, should they attempt to attend another team’s session? Yes.
  4. If a player misses training, are there consequences? Yes.*
  5. Do we think by joining Cincy SC, you’ve given away the right to make decisions for your family? No.

But is a particular training session mandatory? I say no. A training isn’t mandatory just like your “mandatory” meeting at work isn’t really mandatory. You could come up with a dozen reasons that you would miss a “mandatory” work meeting (health issue, family emergency, overslept, flight canceled, CEO called, etc. – some voluntary and others not). So purely from a semantics standpoint, very few things in life are mandatory. That doesn’t mean that they are less important. And that doesn’t mean there aren’t consequences.

Meetings are better when they aren’t mandatory

Monday night Chapter Meetings at my college fraternity were tedious and boring, and to get members to attend they were threatened with fines. “The floggings will continue until the morale improves.” Then a new group of leaders took over and the first thing we did was declare no fines and no mandatory meetings. What do you think happened to attendance?

Shifting the paradigm. For the leadership team, knowing that the meeting wasn’t mandatory totally changed their mindset. They actually had to prepare! If the meetings weren’t efficient, interesting, and worthwhile for members, nobody would come! We wanted members to leave our meetings buzzing with excitement and for those that couldn’t attend to feel like they had missed out. It worked. Attendance quickly doubled and soon reached the point where it was consistently near 100%.

I’ve seen the same result as a manager at P&G, a project team leader, and a soccer coach. When we stop thinking attendance is mandatory, we start working harder to make attendance worthwhile.

Who’s we? Obviously the leadership: the coach, our directors, our team administrators. Can we also start expecting our players to come with a mindset of making training worthwhile for themselves and their teammates?

Training: it’s not mandatory, but you don’t want to miss it!

What do you think?

*For a youth soccer player, missing training will likely negatively impact their development, their team and teammates’ development, the morale of their team, and their playing time and performance in games.