The Ultimate Win

Written and Submitted by Adam Bradley
Founder & President, Lead ‘Em Up

Coaches want to win and in many cases, coaches ‘need’ to win.

The pressure, desires and urgency are all there and because of that, coaches make decisions that’ll impact today. Tomorrow isn’t guaranteed. We need to win now.

Unfortunately with leadership training, the process is cumulative. You see growth over time, little by little and the “time” will vary from player to player.

Coaches pour into their players despite the possibilities of never seeing and personally experiencing the fruit of their labor. Sometimes the light doesn’t go off for the player until a year after they’ve left their program. Perhaps longer. That’s not always the case but in many cases it is.

If you implement a full-court press, you’ll be able to see some form of resemblance to the press by the end of practice. On the flipside if you’re coaching your player to lead and live a certain way, that message may take longer to be received. But should we not still teach it?

The ultimate win is not on the scoreboard; it’s in the lives you impact. It’s in creating tomorrow’s leaders. Our job as coaches is to help produce champions on and off the court. It’s not always easy to do because of the pressure to win on the scoreboard, but it’s well worth the time and effort.

Here are 3-tips to help allow you achieve the ultimate win:

1 – Recognize small things as big things

We often overlook many of our successes in leadership development because they don’t present themselves in large ways. We find ourselves looking for that Hollywood scene where the team is in trouble and our quiet, reserved player breaks out of their shell, rally’s the team and becomes the heroic leader that saves the day. When we fail to see that, we think we’re not making progress. That’s not how it works.

Your player’s growth in leadership occurs in small ways. Remember, it’s cumulative, it’ll start small and it’ll be a series of small things that when put together show a major change and establish momentum.

For example, this past Spring I spent the season as the leadership coach on a local Varsity baseball team. One exercise we do in Lead ‘Em Up is an exercise called “Head Down, Look Up – Race to Erase.” It’s an exercise designed for our players to help each other’s confidence and better rebound from their mistakes.

The situation was this: it was the bottom of the 5th inning and we were up 8. In Maryland high school baseball if you’re up 8 after 5 you win. We put our star pitcher in to close it down. Unfortunately we allowed 3 unearned runs that inning after the centerfielder misplayed a fly ball. At the end of the inning, the pitcher started making his way to the dugout when right before he got to the first base line, he stopped and turnaround to greet the centerfielder and give him a fist pump and tap on the helmet simply telling him “it’s all good, we’ve got this, lets keep going.” The pitcher exemplified exactly what we had discussed a few days priors about “racing to erase” any frustrations, negative emotions in our teammates when they make a mistake.

I can promise you, NO ONE in the entire park that day saw what I saw, despite the magnitude of the situation. Here was a player who had many challenges throughout the year, take a moment to turn their focus off of them, recall something he was taught and serve his teammate in a major way. He showed control over the moment, not allowing the moment to have control over him. He didn’t possess this ability early in the season.

This behavior was praised and repeated by the pitcher in future games. This behavior was also repeated by the teammate who received the embrace from his pitcher.

This small thing… was actually a BIG thing. When you’re coaching your players in more than just the X’s and O’s, you’re winning; you just have to look harder for the wins.

2 – Hold onto the sentiments from alumni

Most youth and high school players have a difficult time communicating their feelings which means they don’t communicate their appreciation for what you’re doing, enough. I see time and time again alumni come back to the program a few years removed with a much greater sense of maturity and communicate their appreciation.

Your players come back and remarkably remember small details of things you said or did in practice and games. They begin to show their gratitude for what you did for them and the impact and experience you provided. Every coach I know loves receiving this feedback and almost always comments that they “wish they knew the player cared this much back then.”

Don’t glance over this. This is important. Your players felt what you were doing, at the time you were doing it, despite not having the maturity to communicate it. You pouring into them is filling them up. In a young players world, there are a small number of individuals who have the ability to influence over them, you’re one of them. Don’t take that responsibility lightly.

3 – Remember your journey

I am so thankful so many coaches in my life were willing to make that sacrifice and intentionally try to develop me in more ways than just the game. Think back to your journey; did coaches pour into you and did it take some time before you truly “got it?” I’d imagine so.

I wish I could’ve been the person I am today back then so they wouldn’t have felt like they were spinning their wheels to get me going. I’m just thankful they kept spinning.

Coaches – teaching the game and X’s & O’s is critical and essential to your success. You teaching them life, leadership & character is essential to their success. Let’s be thankful we “get” the opportunity to be one of the influencers in our players’ lives.

Have fun and Lead ‘Em Up!

You can find out more about the program and Sign-up to receive a free preview of a weekly session you can use with your team today at this link:
Lead ‘Em Up

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