With the League Playoff finals in a couple of weeks and after a shock upset at the National Cup Finals, Beth Gunter assesses why the Lynx draw failed to make it past the quarter-finals.
- Lack of experience
London Lynx are not very experienced playing together as a team. They have never won the National Cup before, and with their last victory celebration back in 2007 when they won the Men’s Division 1 League, it is clear they have not had any notable success together. With a squad full of players with numerous England caps kept on the bench, it is hard to see where their role is. High morale does not just magically appear, it takes time, but this is one of the critical things that the team is missing.
- Cancelled training sessions
With the number of missed training sessions reaching double figures this season, it has become clear that the team has not had time to develop. Training is the most important time before competitions and matches, focusing energy and encouraging improvement together. In their quarter-final match against Tendring VC, it became apparent that Lynx’s missed sessions would not go un-noticed.
- Selection questions
Head coach, Danny Primus, has been in charge of Lynx for six seasons. As a coach he is admirably loyal to his long-serving players, but could this be affecting team performance? Is it right that England International Jermaine Miles starts on the bench and is often not used in matches? With important playoff games left for Lynx this season it will be interesting to see if changes are made on court to help improve performance.
Miles went down with an ankle injury early November, but is on the road to full health. Davide Tiberte, starting libero, ruptured his ACL early in the season, but was already the number-one choice for their quarter-finals, even with only one training session under his belt this year.
- The Christmas Holidays
It was clear that the Christmas period interrupted training and had a significant impact on the team. While time off is a good opportunity for athletes to recover, it is important that they stay active in order to maintain their fitness; for some of the Lynx team it is clear they neglected the latter.
- Errors, errors, errors
The margin for error in sports is so small and volleyball is no different. Generally the team with the most unforced errors will always find themselves on the back foot.
An out-of-sorts Lynx team simply made too many errors in their quarter-final to earn a win. Communication errors affected the team the hardest with simple mistakes creeping into their play. It has to be asked, if the match was played before the Christmas Holidays, would the result still have been the same when they were in tune with their training?
- Rising to the occasion
If Manchester City were to play Wigan, most gamblers would put their life savings on the Premier League team to win. But, as with the FA Cup final of 2013 we can see that’s not always the case as Wigan claimed the title after a 2-1 win at Wembley. When a team is ‘expected’ to win it alters the player’s mindset ahead of the game. It affects the effort and concentration they put in as they can take a win as given result. The same philosophy overcame Lynx when they faced the Division 1 Tendring team, but an upset was always a prospect.
- Bad referee decisions
There’s not one athlete or coach that hasn’t questioned a referee decision. Whether it’s made public or kept ‘in house’, everyone in sport has done it. While refereeing decisions are normally a part of every team talk – ‘we had a lot of decisions against us today’ or ‘the referee was awful’, it should not affect a team’s ability to win a match. The Lynx team often let themselves get affected by these external factors and the frustration soon builds. When players let their frustration show, it has a direct impact on their performance, and is often the first stage of self implosion.
The luck of the draw
Hypothetically, if Lynx had won their quarter-final they would have headed to Newcastle to play the most successful team in the country, Northumbria. Lynx managed a shock win over the talented Northumbria side in early March. So, if they had made it to the semi final in February, could have found themselves in their first cup final? Or was that extra month of training the reason behind their success?