Athletes are often sabotaged by their own worries, doubts, and fears. Feeling threatened is among the worst. When athletes view their circumstance as a threat their confidence goes out the window. They get nervous. Consequently they play tight, hesitant, and weak. What if you could help your athletes turn those threats into opportunities?
Mike Tyson said, “Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.” He’s absolutely right. One of the biggest differences between champions and non-champions is how they handle adversity. Some bounce back, but others crumble. It isn’t what happens to an athlete that defines her, but how she responds to that adversity. Unfortunately, far too many athletes don’t have a game plan for when adversity happens.
By now most athletes have heard of visualization. Many have even tried it – picturing making the big play, winning the championship, or hitting a home run. Visualization is a powerful tool for optimizing an athlete’s performance. The problem is that most athlete’s visualizations are dull, quiet, and still. The most powerful visualization is vivid, dynamic, and immersive.
Sports fans love drama. But from the viewpoint of the coach or player, come-from-behind victories are nerve racking. In 2016, we witnessed numerous comeback stories – Wildcats, Cubs, Caveliers, Patriots. When it comes to getting your team ready to play, how will they respond if they give up a big lead? Do they have what it takes to win a comeback?
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?