Athletes are hard on themselves. We know that. However, some take it too far. After a heartbreaking loss, some athletes may blame themselves, taking too much responsibility. This kind of thinking is counterproductive, unrealistic, and kills confidence. What’s a coach to do?
Pat Summit wrote, “You won’t win consistently without good team leadership…You’ve got to have players who are willing to buy into your system, demand the best from themselves and their teammates, and hold their teammates accountable.” Great teams have leaders in the locker room, setting the tone and leading by example. Does your program need to invest in a leadership council?
The New England Patriots are the sports dynasty of our era. The Patriots are the first franchise in NFL history to reach nine Super Bowls. The combination of Bill Belichik and Tom Brady has led the team to seven of those in the last 16 years. Dominate. One phrase has marked the Patriots organization during that time – “Do Your Job.” Clear and simple, yet powerful. The impact of everyone on the team owning their role is evident in the Patriot’s results. Legendary.
Dabo Swinney is an unlikely character to lead an unlikely team to the top of a dog-eat-dog sport. On January 12, 2017 he led the Clemson Tigers to their second Football School (FBS) National Championship game in as many years. This time Clemson came away the victor in a rematch for the ages against the powerhouse Alabama Crimson Tide. Underneath the underdog story and never say die attitude there is much we can learn from Tiger’s head coach Dabo Swinney.
Vince Lombardi said, “Perfection is not attainable, but if we chase perfection we can catch excellence.” It seems perfection is a double edge sword. It can inspire and paralyze. The pursuit of it can raise the level of an athlete’s performance. Or it can cripple her with fear and anxiety. With such risks and rewards, should coaches stop demanding perfection from their players altogether?
At this time of year we tend to look back and review the highlights from the past 12 months. One of my favorite parts of this review is identifying what coaches, leaders, and parents (people just like you) found most helpful from my blog this year. As someone who loves consolidated lists of tips and resources, I thought I’d share with you my own Top 10 list from 2016.
To be a great athlete today means more than having talent on the competition surface. Coaches want players with character and work ethic. They want players who are coachable. They want athletes who are championship teammates, not just top performers. In fact many organizations will take a great teammate who is less skilled versus top talents who are all about themselves.
Athletes thrive on competition. Yet many have a significant fear of failure. It looks different from one player to the next, but the bottom line is that many athletes are risk averse. A basketball player passes up the open shot. A hitter takes the first pitch when the game is close, even though it was right down the middle. Despite their competitive natures, athletes need to foster courage.
Winning teams are identified by the results they achieve. They are defined by their winning percentage and championships. However, great success is fueled not by talent or systems but by a team’s culture. Peter Drucker said, “Culture eats strategy for lunch.” Whether you lead a club, high school, university, or professional team, your success will be determined by your team’s culture.