The age old question: What does it take to win? Part 1


Part 1: Breaking down what it means to win, in a healthy manner

Football season is upon us and many other sports are beginning to take place for the fall sports season. For many athletes, parents, and spectators alike the ultimate goal for a game, match, or meet is to win. New age thinkers may view games more as a collaboration, a way to have fun, work together, learn and advance their lives; knowing that winning is not always the most effective way to achieve success. We will embark on a series that goes in to detail on what it takes to win. In this first part of the series we will learn what it means to win and examining winning in a new way.

Winning: Old age thinking vs. New age thinking

The vast majority of us have been raised in sport where abuse is not only tolerated, it is praised and glorified. Think for a minute about how many coaches treat their athletes, especially during times when they are not winning. They yell at the athletes, call them names, yell negative or berating remarks, basically, make the athletes feel like crap. Most coaches may believe this is a type of motivational technique. In defense of the coaches, many of them do not know any better, this is what we all were taught to believe, including myself. The belief that if you did not win, you were worthless, and needed to beat yourself up, train harder, do whatever it takes to get the elusive win and praise from your coach, teammates, parents, etc. I am here to tell you now that NONE OF THAT IS TRUE. That is athletic abuse. If you had a child, or a puppy, or someone you really loved, would you make them feel terrible in order to make them do better? NO! Therefore, athletes deserve better treatment as well. Athletes are humans, they WILL make mistakes, just because they are in the limelight does not make them any less vulnerable to the human condition. So how do you train athletes without abusing them?

For coaches and other supports:

  1. Coaches, parents, supports, athletes etc. must take on the challenge of changing their own mindset. This change in mindset will result in an alteration of his/her athlete’s minds as well and have insurmountable positive change. From this change, you will see positive improvements in your life and your athletes, such as more joy and happiness, increased athletic performance, better overall well-being, and increased health. To change your mindset you must begin to change your thoughts and views from negative to positive. As a coach, this means instead of seeing a missed goal as a failure, view it as a chance to learn a way to increase your chances of your athlete making it the next time. Or instead of seeing the score at half time as being less than your opponent, view it as a chance to motivate your athletes to want to overcome their deficits on the field. Next time you view an athlete as inadequate, instead see them as someone who has tremendous room for growth, and is a valuable asset to your team. This is not an easy task, it will take time, practice and patience, but I promise will be well worth your while. Also, this can be transferred into personal life as well. The power of changing negative thoughts to positive thoughts is life-altering, but it does take practice, and patience. Remember, even if you are having difficulty changing your mind, do not berate yourself for making a mistake, simply forget about it and move on to improvement on your next experience. Coaches should also teach this technique of positive thinking to athletes as well, so that they can inhibit self-inflicted abuse (more on that later).
  2. Motivate and uplift rather than berate and put down. Yelling, and using abusive language does not make athletes want to reach their greatest potential, it simply scares them and motivates them from a place of fear rather than love. Athletes who truly are passionate about the sport they are playing will be better fueled by inspirational and motivational guidance rather than fear based words.
  3. Get to know your athletes. Spend some time learning what motivates them and encourages them to be better athletes and better people. It is remarkable how spending just a few minutes getting to know your athlete can give you as a coach tools and knowledge to help your athletes become better in positive ways.

Next week I will continue on this topic and discuss how athletes can help themselves be in the most effective mindset for winning.

And a little bit of inspiration:

Winning isn’t everything.


(Photo credit: Charlotte Dean, ECU Pirate logo is a registered trademark) 

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