Right or wrong, athletes tie their identities to being athletes. What kind of athletes do they see themselves as? Champions? Fighters? Head cases? Chokers? How an athlete views him or herself has wide-reaching effects on his or her identity.
Sven-Goran Eriksson is one of soccer’s best managers. Over four decades he’s learned that, “The greatest barrier to success is the fear of failure.” Keep your athletes from succumbing to fear by teaching them to funnel their fear into high performance.
Everyone appreciates a “class act.” The term is synonymous with athletes who demonstrate sportsmanship and respect toward their teammates and opponents. It is a reflection of their character. What coach doesn’t want a roster filled with class act athletes?
The great Vince Lombardi said, “Winning isn’t everything, it’s the only thing.” One issue with this is that winning is never guaranteed. That’s why we play the game. It turns out that celebrating and showcasing your team’s past accomplishments could be detrimental to this season’s efforts.
Championship teams rely on having team leaders in the locker room. However, athletes on the team have to earn the right to lead their teammates. It starts with leading themselves. Leading yourself begins with developing character.
It’s not how you start; it’s how you finish. I often share this with teams. Unfortunately, sometimes you give up an early lead. The teams that are able to come back are the ones that don’t panic – easier said than done. Let me show you how to keep the wheels from coming off.
Great teams pursue big goals. They go after the BHAGS (big, hairy, audacious goals) that Jim Collins noted of top performing organizations in Good to Great. However, setting big goals can be scary for your team. What if they fail? Big goals come with pressure and expectations. Show your team how to embrace the fear and chase big goals.
Mike Singletary, the great Bears linebacker turned coach said, “Before we can talk about a championship, we have to practice like a championship team.” Champions don’t waste reps in practice. Are your athletes bringing a championship level of focus, purpose, and intensity to every repetition?
Dale Carnegie said, “Any fool can criticize, complain, and condemn — and most fools do. But it takes character and self-control to be understanding and forgiving.” As a coach, do you play the fool or demonstrate character in how you interact with your players? Are you wasting your breath, time, and energy on criticism?