Beilein and Important Team Chemistry – Luck or By Design?
I have no idea about Coach Beilein’s background in academic chemistry; it may be slim, none, or enough to make an observer label him an academic. Beilein is not a registered scientist, but he is a scientist of coaching. In his area (basketball coaching) Coach Beilein has validity of expert opinion; he is an academic. Coach B., like all coaches, is automatically a psychologist, but the argument will be put forth here that he is also a chemist.
Media spouts off about glorified generalities, some glittering and some not. One such generality the guys with the headsets pound at us in all sports is team chemistry.
It, team chemistry, is real, there are combinations, events, critical moments, and pure chance happenstance that can define a team’s chemistry. But ask yourself this: how many times have you heard of an average or below average team being praised by media for team chemistry? it seems that team chemistry accolades are reserved for the winners, the vocal, the hot team, or a team that is the main story line.
Media can observe and see how players on any singular team in a singular event interact with each other. The observation for that moment in time is probably correct. But that moment in time is usually defined by joy and winning that should demonstrate a picture of togetherness.
Team chemistry goes beyond mere moments of glee in the spotlight. It is tons of nuances and megatons of small interactions. Players interact before practice, during practice, in class, on campus, as roommates, and on and on.
So, that leads up to the theme of the day: is this Michigan team’s chemistry luck, brought about by mere chance and winning, or instead has this been a concerted effort by Coach Beilein to establish a really together group?
The verdict here is an established effort and below will entail a supporting discussion.
Coach Beilein is clearly an organicist in Stephen Pepper’s noted explanation of how worldview effects human behavior and preferences. As an aside, readers may remember an in-depth series on Coach Harbaugh as a clear mechanist in pepper’s worldview analysis. Several related articles are in the archives
Organicists are fluid, willing to try new things, in fact almost sad to remain status quo. Organicists prefer the whole for primary focus and not the parts, like the mechanist does. The team is a living breathing entity that has the utmost value. As a part of the whole you are valued as an individual part.
As such, the strong and successful organicist almost automatically views team chemistry as a merging of the parts into a useful whole- the entry. The part, no matter how good, must be envisioned as creating a better whole.
This mission (creating team chemistry) probably starts in the recruiting process. Some have criticized Coach Beilein and his approach to selecting and recruiting parts. The mechanists want good parts and will figure out where to use them later. But getting the parts is the primary focus for mechanists, not so much for organicists, although common sense states even the guy focusing on the whole must have some parts.
Coach Beilein is very selective in offering his parts and his entire sales mechanism is to show the part how they can benefit and be essentially connected to the whole. The parts must have certain criteria to even get the invite. The interview, the interaction with parents, the discovery of what is important to the recruit all play a part in how Beilein perceives a player fitting into his system, his whole entity, his universe.
The organicist is essentially a chemist by nature. In the old days there were alchemists, those who threw stuff together, more often by trial and error, hoping to strike gold. Then came the precise study of molecular interaction and make up known as chemistry.
Team chemistry has planned interactions, explicit expectations concerning every part being needed for the whole, and as a result unconditional support for a teammate.
A coach is involved in more than x and o talk, more than scouting, and more than game execution. Starting from moment one, coaches who are good at developing chemistry have perceptive insights regarding how to develop each part and merge the collection into a highly interconnected whole.
Part of Coach’s chemistry appears to be letting each player be themselves, within reason. Individuality can easily be incorporated into the overall group.
Organicists usually have a second preference of worldview, the contextualism. The contextualist values most what works, he or she is pragmatic. So, it would make perfect psychological sense for a Coach like Beilein to keep what works, but evolve it to work better. The it in this case is the Beilein system.