We often blog about the importance of team chemistry. We believe you have to meet as a staff and have a plan of attack in developing it just as you would your offense, your defense, your transition game. It was a topic that Coach Sue Gunter brought up each Monday in our staff meetings. "What are we going to do this week to improve/maintain our team chemistry."
Here are is what Michael Casagrande of www.al.com wrote about Nick Saban and how he handled some chemistry issues this year. What's impressive is that its been a long time since Alabama has lost yet Coach Saban is cognizant of how his team is meshing.
It's a great column by Casagrande which you can read on line here.
The month of September didn't include an Alabama loss, but coach Nick Saban wasn't happy with a few things.
These were internal things that were visible if you looked closely on Saturday afternoons.
"I didn't like the chemistry of the team in the beginning of the season," Saban said on his radio show Thursday night. "There was just something not right."
It was a generational thing.
"The older guys and the younger guys weren't gee-hawing like you'd like for them to. The younger guys weren't respecting the older guys like they should and the older guys probably didn't care enough about the development of the younger guys."
That doesn't fit with Saban's vision of the way his program should run.
So in the third or fourth week of the season, he implemented a new approach.
"I started to call the players in," Saban said. "I said you have to go talk to five players. I'm not going to ask you which ones, you choose them, but you have to make it a point to go talk to five players and say 'How do you feel? What's the problem?' Show some understanding. I've been there before. This is how I managed this, this is how I handled it so you're doing something to invest some time and help somebody else be able to mature and do the things they need to do to be able to mature and be successful."
Communication improved a lot since then and the breakdowns tailed off on the field. The effort continues. Every Wednesday the older players meet with the younger players.
"They just talk, no coaches in the room and nobody is trying to infiltrate some kind of propaganda or anything like that," Saban said. "But just so the younger players gain a respect for the older players and the older players can express some of the things that helped them be successful so it helps those players."
Saban also explained another form of discipline that helped with accountability.
"And the other thing I do, if a guy's not doing what he's supposed to do in practice and it's really upsetting to some of the older players who are trying to do the right thing, I say 'Look, you don't have to practice today. Just go over there and stand in the box. Just go stand in the box. You don't have to do anything. You don't have to practice, you don't have to do up-downs, you don't have to do exercises. Just stand in the box and everybody out here's going to know you're not doing what you're supposed to do.'"
How many have visited the box?
Two, Saban said without identifying them.