Everybody knows the basics of what a good sports coach does. Organization, planning, strategy, motivation, and discipline are just a few traits of a solid coach. There’s also one very important factor of a successful team that a coach can only sow the seed of.
It’s the peer to peer drive to get better.
The standard the players hold each other to in getting better every day.
The accountability to do the job you are supposed to do, to be where you should be, and to make the team better by your presence.
It’s the individual push in a player’s mind to not let his teammates down.
But unless the players accept this seed the coach has planted and grow it, they will never reach their full potential.
The really great teams I’ve been around had this trait within their ranks. They got on each other’s case about missed assignments, missed workouts or missed efforts, and did it in a positive (well, as positive as high school boys can be) way. In short, the players needed to keep an eye on each other and realize others were keeping an eye on them.
Peer to peer drive is what makes great teams. They don’t allow each other to fail. They don’t allow each other to slide. They keep the standard high and they keep the train on the track.
It’s a thing of beauty when it is chugging down the rails, believe me. An ugly, chocolate-mess-that-never-even-gets-close-to-fulfilling-their-team-potential when it struggles down the track.
How does a coach sow the seeds?
Number one, almost everything you do needs to be done in an environment where the players can actually get their eyeballs on one another.
A single session for off-season workouts and conditioning sessions. Everybody needs to be there and everybody needs to see who is there doing the work, who is there slacking off, and who did not even show up. Players learn from these sessions who they can count on as teammates. All the frigging movie nights, dinners, campfire sing-alongs, are wasted time if the players don’t find out who they can count on when the caca hits the fan. When the going gets tough, who can I count on to get going with me?
Two. You have to set up an organization that allows the players to work out their issues while within a safe environment for everybody. This means feelings will get hurt, egos will get stomped into the ground, and kids may even argue or fight. The players need to work these things out without going overboard. They need to learn to develop trust with the people they will stand side-by-side with during competition.
Three. Give the players a sense of ownership. As a coach, you are the person in charge. No questions should ever be asked about who is the king of the castle. This should be established from day one, hour one, minute one. But the goal is to be the leader, not the dictator. Have a plan, have a philosophy but be willing to listen and incorporate input from the players who are actually out playing the game. If you’ve done your job right teaching them the game, they will be able to analyze problems and help with solutions. A sense of ownership goes a long way in team-building.
Whether you are a coach or a player, you can do the little things to help your squad live up to its potential.
Be reliable and demand reliability.
Be accountable and demand accountability.
Work hard and demand the same from your peers.
Do your job and demand others to do theirs.
Enjoy the game and enjoy playing with your peers.
Keep your eyes on the prize.
Keep your eyes on one another.