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?
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.
At nearly every level of sports, practice time is regulated. The NFL is a solid example of this. Many coaches believe this is making it harder to develop young players, refine skills, and get their teams on the same page. Despite these limitations, coaches can use the sport psychology skill of imagery to help make the most of the practice they do get.
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.
In many sports, athletes spend more time between their ears (thinking) than they do playing. This reality can wreck havoc on an athlete after they make a mistake. Many beat themselves up, get down on themselves, and lose confidence. What they need is a reset routine – a systematic process to help athletes “let it go” after a mistake and keep their heads in the game.
One reason I love watching athletes receive awards is the acceptance speeches. In them athletes thank God, their mom, their Little League coach, their teammates, the fans, and on and on. They express tremendous gratitude to all those who helped them along the way. What if we encouraged athletes to express gratitude more often?