At every level of athletics, there is the beginning of a new season, a chance to experience a new team that is special and a new level of positive energy for the game, team and each other.
There is a camp, a pre-season or game like scrimmages to select the best players, put in the offense, defense and special teams systems. The focus is on finding the right style, tempo and intensity of play to fit the personnel.
The challenges for the coaches is to clearly communicate the expectations for the program in a manner that allows the players to buy into the processes and the desired outcomes.
The players are responsible for being grateful for the opportunities that the season will provide: To be aware of their individual “why’s” – the power of their expectations and the desired outcomes they want to accomplish that are a source of motivation.
Reflection: The coaches and players should build relationships that foster communication and the presence of trust and complete acceptance.
The new players must quickly adjust to their roles on the team, feel good about being part of this team and playing in a new system. The older players must welcome and accept the new players. Even in cases where the new player replaces the older/veteran player. The issue is trust. The players must trust each other and the processes. In the case of personnel issues, a system must be in place to help players advocate for themselves and resolve issues.
The team must learn to breathe and settle down as a unit. To maintain present moment awareness of what’s needed to get the job done, to be mindful and focused on making the right decisions. The team needs to work hard mentally as well as physically to establish the confidence to know that any minute they can make the big play, score and win!
Reflection: The team must learn to want to compete in the biggest moments, to embrace challenges and battle; to give a collective best effort, accept the results and learn from the experience.
As the new season begins and the new team learns to be competitive the stage is set for a new source of energy to emerge. The pace and tempo tends to increase as the players gain confidence in their ability to practice and run the drills. The coaches are in direct contact with the players. The players respond to the coaches and to each other with a sense of urgency. The intensity is high and yet not frantic. Support for the process and each other is readily apparent.
With success comes a new level of energy and concern for each other. For this energy to be consistent and last through the inevitable hard times, the base of the relationships and energy needs to be trust and acceptance. At this level of concern for the process and each other the players are able to integrate, to learn the lessons needed to get better as a team and as individuals.
As the learning increases, players learn to make good decisions for the good of the team. Evidence of the “new energy” can be observed in the aggressive play and deliberate movement in all facets of practice and competition.
Reflection: This new energy can be described as:
- a unified attitude of conviction. “Yes, we can be successful.”
- expansive levels of intensity. “Yes, we are up for any level of challenge and focus.
- a shared commitment to finish. “Yes, we will give our best effort and learn from the experience.”
The coach and his or her staff are responsible for establishing a positive working relationship for everyone associated with the team. Once that is accomplished a wide-range of leadership styles can be effective. For the players, a leadership core group should be established as an ongoing source of support to enhance communication across the board and resolve issues and shared concerns.