NORMAN — Riding a two-game losing streak, most coaches would have their teams on the practice field going over drills for hours. Pounding out the mistakes and miscues.
But Oklahoma soccer coach Matt Potter had a different philosophy he wanted to try out. Instead of going over their next opponent, Wednesday he took the entire team to the OU tennis courts for a friendly competition. Even though they were coming off losses to No. 10 Florida and No. 2 Florida State over the weekend, he felt the best recipe called for a little unconventional fun.
“Obviously, we are coming off a long weekend and, on campus, the first waves of tests are coming around and they are studying hard, too,” Potter said. “So we don’t need to overload with information. This is a way to do something constructive, to still compete. We are obviously having our own U.S. Open here.”
The players paired up into various doubles teams and competed for an imaginary title.
Instead of the Sooners worrying about their struggling offense, there was a lot of laughing and joking taking place. But there was learning going on, according to Potter.
“Ultimately, I think it’s good sometimes to remember and be humble about doing something you are not too familiar with,” Potter said. “We are trying to learn about each other and this is maybe a different way to show the importance of that. That you have to have an open mind and you have to have fun.”
Potter didn’t explain the method to his madness to the team until after they had concluded the tournament. He wanted them to just focus on having fun while competing.
“It was an experience,” Madison Saliba said. “Abby Hodgen was my partner. We were 0-3. But that’s OK. We made a good effort. It was fun. It was a little time off, kind of. So it was good. Helped us to open our eyes to new things and don’t forget to have fun with stuff and work hard at the same time.”