by Frank McLean
In the 30 years that I have spent around professional athletes, the one common complaint I always hear when a player gets released from a team or just don’t like their coach is that “I NEVER KNEW MY ROLE”!
Well that’s not going to be a problem this year with your Toronto Raptors. Each player will know what his role is going to be.
Head coach Dwayne Casey will be giving each player role cards. On these cards will be specific instructions on what he and the rest of his coaching staff expect from each player and their fit into the structure of the team’s program.
This is not nothing new for Casey. He did this during his brief stint as head coach of the Minnesota Timberwolves as well when he was an assistant with George Karl and Nate McMillan with the Seattle Supersonics and with Rick Carlisle in Dallas with the Mavericks.
The cards won’t be handed out until just before the start of the season, so Casey and the coaching staff can get an idea of what each player can and cannot do. What will be written on the cards is very simple.
“What’s your job? If you are a passer, pass it, if you’re a screener, screen it,” Casey said.
So if a player forgets what he has to do all he has to do is simply read their card.
Each player will get three copies of their cards. One goes to their agent, one they get to take home and have a friend a wife or girlfriend to hang on to and third one stays with them in their locker.
Casey added, “I think it’s very important that you put in writing where there’s an understanding of their role. It may be different somewhere else, but for our team, those things are important.”
Casey also said that these cards can be amended during the season if a player shows the coaching staff they have been working at what their card says the role is and getting better at it.
To be honest I have never seen this practice used in any of the other sports I have covered. Funny during my time in hockey, I could never see a Scotty Bowman or an Al Arbour writing out on a card what expectations they had for their players. Defensemen defend and scorers score and always comeback and help out in your own end was their simple way of coaching players.
Coaching athletes is like being a school teacher, the lesson is the same no matter what generation your talking about, but as time progresses how you go about teaching that lesson changes. So the role cards are just another way of getting through to the players what they are supposed to do on the court.
The message a coach gives will always be the same to players no matter what sport you are talking about. Coaches just have to find a different way to get that message out. Role cards are just another way.
Veteran journalist Frank McLean has covered nearly every Raptors game in Toronto since their inaugural season at the Skydome back in 1995-96. He has seen it all. The good, the bad and the really bad and he is one of the very few journalists in Toronto that has kept coming back for more.