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Tangible vs. Intangible

by Brett Matzuka

As cliché as it may be, it is true that the sideline can equate to the eighth man (woman) for a team. However, I would say the sideline can mean much more than just an eighth man. The sideline can be a symbolic representation of the morale and demeanor of the game. 

Most speak of the sideline and the tangible benefits of using your voices to motivate and push your teammates in the heat of battle on the field. Everyone that has run track or cross country, or even a conditioning practice with your team, knows how much harder you work when you are being encouraged by your brethren. The benefit of taking your mind off the pain, struggle, and fatigue you are facing and being granted a mental distraction to refocus all of that defeat into a positive- that you are doing it for your teammates. This has immediate benefits and is the very least a sideline can do to influence the success of their team without stepping on the field. 

The next most advantageous aspect is still more constructive. Unlike many other sports, we are blessed to be able to give active coaching throughout the entire point of play. We are not limited to coaching areas during the point as in basketball, punished for helping as in golf, or limited by time as in football. We are able to have players along the whole perimeter giving advice to players throughout the entire point. I find the best way to optimize this benefit is to allocate one sideline player to each on-field player so they have one voice to listen for. This is especially important in zone as a player can often get contradictory, or at least conflicting, advice during a point. Next, it isn’t about giving them trivial advice, information they already know, such as the force or who they are marking, but about invaluable info they are not able to obtain. For instance, on the mark, if they are correctly forcing forehand but the only real threat is a backhand, informing them to switch the mark for 1-2 seconds to the ‘technically’ wrong force. Because you are able to see the entire field much like the thrower, you are aware of the likely option the thrower wants to take and can inform your mark of this information to give them a level playing field. The ability to have a knowledgeable enough sideline to do this is usually worth a few Ds a game. 

However, though the previous was tangibly effective, the most advantageous aspect of the sideline is attitude. Although it is the least tangible, the best thing a sideline can do is be positive, optimistic and supportive of their players and each other. Most good teams are waiting for the opportunity to step on the opposition’s throat, which is keyed in on when they seem down and discouraged. If you never give them this opportunity, not only do you keep your team’s environment a positive and unified one, you can potentially leach the opposition’s confidence, giving your team an edge late in the game when it matters. A good example of this is Seattle’s Sockeye. They keep their mental state on the sideline positive and encouraging, keeping their players focused on the points ahead instead of mistakes that might have occurred that could lead to future mistakes.

huddle issue030 Using The Sideline Voice

Thursday, January 20th, 2011

Keep It Calm
by Jody Avirgan

Two Things Durings A Point
by Jeff Eastham-Anderson

Standardizing A Team Way Of Communicating
by Greg Husak

A Strong Sideline Voice
by Tyler Kinley

Tangible vs. Intangible
by Brett Matzuka

A Constant Stream Of Specific Information
by Colin McIntyre

Make It Useful
by Jim Parinella

Sharing The Work
by Logan Pendragon

Assisting The Visually Impaired
by Taylor Pope

It Takes Practice
by Moses Rifkin

Loud + Positive = Good
by Miranda Roth

Provide New Information and Reinforcement
by Shane Rubenfeld

The Zone
by Ben van Heuvelen




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