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.
Coaches have a tremendous influence over their athletes. A coach’s philosophy, communication, demeanor, and competence all play a role. The expectations a coach has for a player, whether spoken or not, have a significant impact on that player’s ability to reach his or her potential. I call this the self-fulfilling prophecy of leadership.
Only 34% of American workers are engaged in their work, according to a Gallup report published in March 2016. That’s the highest since 2011. A major aspect of engagement is motivation. In sports (the work of athletes), players tend to be more engaged and motivated to play their best than other occupations. Perhaps that is due to more streamlined focus toward winning, clear roles, and interdependence of team sports. However, coaches play a significant role in their team’s daily motivation.
There is nothing more frustrating to a coach than a player who doesn’t listen to feedback. For an athlete to maximize his or her abilities physically, technically, tactically, or mentally requires that he or she be receptive to feedback – coaching. Without it, athletes are left to the slow improvement method of trial and error.
Responsibility equals accountability equals ownership. And a sense of ownership is the most powerful weapon a team or organization can have,” Pat Summit, former Tennessee Women’s Basketball Coach, wrote in her book Reach for the Summit.