What motivated you to become what you are today? What ignited your passion? Who mentored you as a young player and why did you choose to follow them?
Developing elite level skill takes more than just God given talent and/or great genetics. To truly develop skill to it’s fullest potential the following things must fall into place during the early years of a players development…
- The player must possess an inner drive to practice with a want to improve (possess a passion for the process). Without an inner drive to succeed, one will almost always come up short.
- A life changing experience – an ignition point – where the individual sees or hears something that touches their innermost being. We need to be inspired by someone or something.
- A coach, parent or teacher that refuses to let the fire (passion for the process) die out.
Sometimes as coaches we give ourselves too much credit. We are simply the fuel that feeds the inner fire – not the fire itself. Our goal is to keep the players passion – or inner fire burning for as long as possible and then the players do the work. For players to truly develop their skills or talent to their fullest potential, we need to keep them engaged in the process. Adversity, challenges and failures can be tremendous learning opportunities that motivate and challenge players to adapt and overcome. Or they can be stumbling blocks of discouragement that hinder our progression towards our goals. It’s all about perception and the path we take (or the teaching/mentoring we give the player) through this adversity.
In our programs, we try and attack this within each session. Yes, it is very demanding on the coach. You have to “get up” for each training session and have a passion for making a positive impact on each athlete. We all have our “off” days where we just don’t “bring it,” but I can tell you from experience. The more often you bring it, and the more impact you make, the more you get back from the players in terms of energy, effort and enthusiasm. This is why we got into coaching in the first place! Burn out in our profession is very high, and I truly believe that it is high, because some coaches can’t get up and bring it every day. This lack of enthusiasm trickles down to the players and they don’t give much back. Energy in – Energy out!
So to briefly recap, we need to set the stage with our players – paint the picture in their minds of what they could be… Next we light the fuse and ignite their passion and desire by getting excited, emotional and enthusiastic… And finally, we refocus their energy and funnel it into quality practice during each repetition, of each exercise within each training block, so that they can make the connection to the big picture – their ultimate goal.
This spring we are seeking out individual triggers for each of our 300 players. We as coaches are trying to learn more about our players goals and deliver very subtle messages within the training session on how this can impact their goals. Bottom line is this… Players want to be great, they want to learn and they want to develop, but most of them don’t know how. They look to leaders (peers, coaches, pro athletes, etc.) to give them direction. My question to you now becomes, “Are you setting the charge, igniting their passion and focusing on their attention to the details that will carry them to new heights?”
Great reading on this topic if your interested: The Talent Code by Daniel Coyle