Learning the game – part two ( Mentor programs )
Anyway, my idea is very simple – if every new player to the game had the chance to develop with a far more experienced player, in addition to whatever other methods he or she chooses, the conversion rate of raw beginners to regular players could only increase.
For this idea to work, each club owner needs the buy in and cooperation of its member players. It’s time for all of us to give back a little of ourselves to the game.
I don’t think that should be too difficult – as the demographics clearly show, many club regulars have lots of spare time, and it is in their best interests to promote the game, and increase membership and game sizes.
It is also a wonderful way for everyone to meet new people – new friendships may develop, and new social groups may evolve.
Each club owner should build a list of volunteer mentors for new and developing bridge players. I don’t think there should be automatic acceptance into the group. Mentors should have patience, pleasant personalities, availability, sincere interest, and an ability to transfer knowledge in a constructive manner. System geeks should be asked to tone it down, or be reserved only for players who lust for new methods.
Mentors must be willing to donate the equivalent of one bridge session a week – more is preferred, but hey, we have to start somewhere.
Mentors must be willing to make a commitment of at least three months.
Ideally, mentors would attend or shadow some of the bridge classes being offered in the club. Mingle with the new players, sit down with them at scheduled breaks during the lessons to socialize and reinforce concepts just taught by the teacher.
The idea is that every inexperienced player would develop a relationship with at least one mentor – more than one is perfectly fine.
Each inexperienced player will have the chance to play at least once a week with an experienced player – such sessions to be preceded by (at least a brief) discussion and coaching, and followed by healthy analysis and feedback (ideally in the next twenty four hours)
As interest develops, the club should schedule a regular game for mentors and their students – in addition to whatever sessions they may play together on the regular club schedule. (Most clubs have dead sessions on their calendars whose time slot can be used for this purpose)
These can be lots of fun – with short presentations (served with desserts and coffee) before the game, and possibly even a group debrief and discussion after these games.
I could go on and on – I suspect I will at some point. I have lots of ideas to stimulate the growth of the game. For now, I just want to throw these ideas out there and ask what you regular bridge players think of this.
A plan can evolve very quickly if we are like minded.