Take a look at some of the best players around the country year in and year out, across all levels, and the top coaches and programs and/or organizations across all sports, and you’ll notice a common thread – when you get right down to it, they all share common enemies.
Below, I have broken down those enemies that so often keep players, coaches, and programs from realizing their full potential.
Players: If you coach for long enough, chances are you’ve worked with a player who knows exactly how good he is, but fails to understand how great he could be and how high his ceiling is. They get complacent at practice and fail to push themselves, and never end up reaching their full potential.
Coaches: For coaches, I think most all of us are aware of the dangers of complaceny, especially after a good season. Where I witness coaches getting complacent is getting comfortable with their scheme, practice plans, and things of that nature. As coaches some of us have trouble stepping out of our comfort zone to explore other options.
Programs: Complacency is one of the major factors that prevents a good program from becoming consistently elite, and finding a way to combat that is something that only a small handful of programs have figured out how to do, and finding that recipe has allowed those coaches to win consistently for years, and sometimes decades.
Simply stated, being surrounded, or infiltrated, by negativity can quickly become a cancer for you, your players, and your overall program. Work to weed out that negativity, at the very least to a point where it does not come in contact with you, your players, or your program any more. If that’s impossible, do everything you can to limit it’s influence.
Players: For players, selfishness is a lack of discipline that includes making a concious decision to take the easy way out because it benefits you in some way. In the weight room that means stopping at 6 reps when you’re supposed to do 8, at school it means jumping in to bully a kid with peers instead of sticking up for him because you want to feel like part of the “cool kids” and on the field it means not blocking on the perimeter because chances are the ball won’t end up coming your way.
Coaches: By and large, the majority of the coaching profession is filled with unselfish coaches who want to impart the lessons they learned with kids who choose to play the game, but there is a small sect of coaches who selfishly pursue their own personal gains and put that ahead of the kids so they can chase their dream of coaching at the major college, or NFL level because of the title and perceived authority that come with it. For coaches, selfishness can also show up in win-at-all-costs type coaches who are willing to sacrifice everything to add W’s to their win column.
Programs: Selfish programs are rare, but exist where the football program has tunnel vision and only looks out for itself, failing to understand their role in the greater school dynamic, their community, and beyond. A football program with a selfish vision will never achieve their full potential.
Players: For our players, I think a lot of things in today’s society can be considered distractions. In that vein, you’ve got everything from social media, to the beach during the summer, to everyday struggles of being a teenager in today’s society that can serve as distractions. Only those with a clear focus on their goals, combined with some internal drive, will be able to reach their full potential.
Coaches: Distractions for coaches can oftentimes mean focusing on things beyond our control. For example, don’t spend hours and hours game planning for the next opponent (something outside of your control), and fail to focus the necessary amount of time and energy improving your own players, scheme, and coaching staff (all things well within your control).
Programs: Very similar to coaches, one thing that comes to mind when I think of distractions for a program is trying to compare your program to someone else’s. Each place has their own hurdles and their own set of circumstances, so don’t get caught up trying to be the next successful high school up the road, instead, focus on making your program the best it can be, and make it the new standard in the area that others will want to someday compare their program to.
Fear of Hard Work:
For whatever reason, a lot of society would rather have things handed to them, instead of earned with hard work, and that prevents many players, coaches, and programs from reaching their full potential. On an individual level, each player is fundamentally in charge of their decision to put in the necessary work, the same can be said for coaches. Why some of us choose to not put in the work required will forever be a mystery. For the greater program, you have to have a mix of vocal leaders, and effective coaches to get the entire program to put in the necessary work to reach their collective potential.