Saturday, October 15, 2011

6 Ways Our Teams Can Get Better Every Day

By Dawn Redd

Article Source:

Every coach's goal is that their players get better every day in practice...and that the improvement can be measured through success in games. Much of what happens in the athletic lives of our athletes is out of their control. Check out this article, "Focus on the Process", over at the Stronger Team Blog... the author talks about focusing on what we can control rather than those things that we can't. Let's look at six tools we can give to our athletes to give them more control over their athletic success and happiness.

6 ways to control the controllables

1.Focus. There are a million things going on in our student-athlete's lives. It's been my experience that athletes are usually some of the more engaged students on campus. They're involved in student government and various clubs. They are officers in their fraternities or sororities. They've got friendships and relationships to maintain. On top of all of that, they've got classes to study for, papers to write, and study groups to meet with. But for two hours a day, we need their undivided attention. We need them focused on the task at hand...which is twofold. To get better individually each day while contributing to the team goals. That's mental discipline and it's not always easy, but it's essential.

2.Attitude. Whether you've got a freshmen who came in with a lot of fanfare and will start immediately, or a junior who's yet to earn significant playing time...they've both got to have a team mindset. If your stud freshman is in the training room with neck problems because she can't hold up her gigantic head, then she's got a bad attitude. If your junior is griping in the locker room that she's better than one of the younger players, then she's causing problems with her bad attitude. Seeing the positives in any situation will not only make their individual experience better, but will make the team stronger.

3.Body Language. Every team has an Eeyore...the player that mopes when things don't go their way. I've tried to make my team understand that part of the burden of being on a team means helping to motivate your teammates each and every day. Being a Negative Nellie isn't a great way to keep a team's spirits up. Teammates should be able to look at one another and be motivated (not dragged down into the abyss) by what they see.

4.Effort. Even awful players can give great effort, because it has no tie to skill. Effort is a choice to be made every drill, every day, and every game. It's our job as the coach to make our teams understand that choosing not to give all out effort all of the time means they're choosing not to get better. And if they're choosing not to get better, then they're choosing to lose some winnable games. And if they're choosing to lose winnable games...why are they playing?

5.Thoughts. Thoughts are powerful. They tell us that we can get to the ball that seems out of reach. They tell us to increase our weight that we're lifting. They tell us to cheer on the struggling teammate. They tell us we can when it looks like we can't. Thoughts encourage us, they motivate us, they inspire us, they move us to action.

6.Communication. I don't know how many times I've had to articulate to a player that the only way her teammates know what's going on inside of her head is for her to speak. Whether it's being in a crappy mood from a bad test in a class or a ball that two people are making an effort for...communication solves a multitude of ills.