The greatest obstacle to success is taking action daily, the greatest obstacle to taking action daily is finding motivation, the greatest obstacle to finding motivation is belief, and the greatest obstacle to belief is faith. Thus faith is the foundation for all worthwhile accomplishment.
A great many players desire to achieve success in their sport. They may even strongly desire and dream of the outcomes they can receive when successful by societal standards; wins, championships, recognition, scholarships, professional opportunities, etc. Yet why do so few start and last on the path of full committment towards those standards of success ? Why doesn’t the possiblity of those rewards drive every player through adversity? Why do so many stop at obstacles?
I believe the answer lies in a lack of trust, or faith, by the player that is borne out of the uncertainty of not seeing the alignment between what is on their heart and the path they are being asked to travel. In order to stick through a difficult journey, a path paved with adversity, a person must have deep faith that this is the path for them. They must possess a deep faith that the path and the reward line up with their personal goals, values, and purposes. When faced with times of adversity what is at the core of our motivation will win out. If a player doesn’t believe in the path the prospect of an extrinsic reward will not carry them past the obstacles. Only the determination found in pursuing intrinsic goals can drive someone repeatedly past obstacles.
The only other explanation would be players simply do not desire the extrinsic reward being offered. I hear so many pundits and expertts like Dick Vitale say on television something like ‘if the kid would just go to class and work hard they could be millionaires, I don’t get what he is thinking’. Two things in response to that. 1) Believe it or not money and fame may not be the greatest source of motivation for everybody, if it was we would all be entreprenuers or entertainers. 2) Has anybody taken the time to find out what truly excites that player? Has anyone helped them identify their passion(s) and how the path of working hard on the basketball court and showing up to classes might align and be of benefit with their passion(s)?
The world’s extrinsic rewards will never be able to compete with the power found when a path aligns with somebodys passison and purpose. Likewise a coach will never be able to fully motivate and teach a team until the players and team have faith in the alignment between their passions and goals and the coaches vision and plan for them.
Coaches talk a great deal of the importance of buy-in by players. But how is the accomplished? What is needed to lead so that others will follow? People and players don’t follow titles very far, so merely being a coach doesn’t ensure players will adhere to your demands.
I believe a big part of this is clearly communicating your goals and expectations for the team and its members. However, an equally big component is providing the players with the opportunity to indivdually share their goals and expectations with you. This only occurs if you start a dialogue as a coach. If you are willing to actually listen and not lecture during this time you will have a much better understanding of the individual player and a great foundation to operate from in helping them adjust into their role on the team.
There are many benefits to this dialogue such as:,
- Players feel heard and validated
- Players have ‘aha’ learning moments when they are talking through these questions as to their role on the team
- You can start to manage out of synch expectations between yourself and a player much earlier and at a time before anger and resentment have started to build up.
- You can discover better ways to communicate with the player as you will have a greater understanding of their motivations and what makes them tick if you listen well.
Below are examples of questions you can use at the start of seasons to initiate dialogue with players to develop the trust and relationship that can thrive during the adversity of a season:
- What are your expectations for being on this team? Playing time? Role on team? Shot attempts? Type of shot attempts?
Would you be able to stay positive in words, actions, and effort if these expectations did not get met?
- What would you say are your strengths as a player? Are there any others on the team stronger than you in these areas?
- What are areas of your game that you feel you struggle in?
- What are your goals for playing on this team? Personally? For the Team?
- How would you describe good leadership?
- What do you think makes a good teammate?
The benefits of sincere dialogue intiated and continued throughout a season by questions and listening will pay benefits for the life of a player coach relationship and definately provide a coach and their team their best opportunity to respond to adversity in a positive manner.
“Toughness is shown in how you respond to adversity. Can you respond without losing your footing and your direction? If so, that shows me that you’re tough. Life is messy. We don’t always get a happy ending, and sometimes the middle isn’t so happy either. You never really know how tough people are until they encounter the rough spots. We’re all tough when things are going our way. We’re all tough when we’re getting the breaks. That’s easy. But the truly tough man is the one who stays grounded in his values and focused on his goals when things are challenging. When things in life don’t go according to plan, the tough man will exhibit a determination to reach his goal no matter the obstacles.” – Tony Dungy in his book Uncommon
Adversity is a fact of any season, game, or season of life. How we deal with adversity is a big factor in reaching our goals. Coaches talk a lot about developing toughness in their team. As Tony Dungy describes above what we are ultimately doing is teaching players to effectively deal with adversity. Below are some simple thoughts for coaches to keep in mind to help their players develop the toughness to deal with the adversity they will face.
- When adversity hits it is too late to prepare. A team must be prepared for the unexpected, understanding they will face the tough call, the bad breaks and the difficult situations. Knowing you will face it you can develop actions to respond to these situations that are borne out of the values and the belief system your team has. Knowing how to react when adversity hits will give playes confidence that they can overcome the difficulty.
- Players mirror the actions of the coach. The first step in preventing players from losing their focus after a bad call, a big play, or a devasting loss is to maintain our focus as a coach. If a coach loses their composure and focus players can not be expected to tkeep theirs.
- Instill confidence it lead to optimism. Confidence is the knowledge of having done. By placing players in many different situations during practice and helping them overcome difficult situations enables them to believe and feel optimistic in times of adversity. They can lean on having overcome adversity before. They are confident.
The mark of a true champion is the ability to maintain single-mindness of purpose when everyone else loses focus.