Living Trophies

By March 14, 2014 No Comments

Every season players, coaches, and teams dream of winning trophies and cutting down the nets at the end of the season. The cold reality is that it just doesn’t happen for everyone. If your sole motivation is winning and taking home trophies, you’re in for a lifetime of frustration. In this week’s post we’ll discuss why we should focus on creating living trophies rather than winning them.

In the state of Missouri we have five classifications, or divisions, for both boys and girls high school basketball. That means only 10 teams get to finish their season with a win. The overwhelming majority end with a loss. If a team’s success is solely based upon wins and losses, the big picture isn’t being seen. As Coach John Wooden said, “Success comes from knowing that you did your best to become the best your capable of becoming.”

What kind of world do we want? This is a simple yet profound question. I ask this because in coaching we must keep in mind the profound influence we have over youth. We have an opportunity to help shape the future through what we teach our athletes. If we want a better world, we need better people. In order to do this we must first model the behavior we want from our athletes or that we’d like to see in society. We must also explicitly teach character to our athletes. Our focus should be on building champions rather than winning championships. The wins, trophies, and championships will come.

What makes someone a living trophy? I believe it’s the ability to give your best effort all the time. As Coach John Wooden said, “Success is doing your best to become the best you’re capable of becoming.” Another aspect of being a living trophy is understanding that what you are as a person is more important than what you are as an athlete. As coaches, we must constantly remind our players of this. We cannot only view and treat them as pawns that help win games. Living trophies are leaders. They show genuine care and concern for others. Living trophies are resilient; they know failure is not final. Simply put, living trophies do their best to always be at their best and they bring out the best in others.

How do we get there? First and foremost we must teach athletes life lessons through sports. Sports are an incredible vehicle to teach life lessons such as hard work, commitment, persistence, loyalty, courage, honesty, and integrity. Coaches must put an emphasis on developing the core and character of their players. This can be done on a daily basis through quotes, personal and human interest stories, and video clips. To create living trophies, we cannot emphasize winning above everything else. What we must stress is the process. If athletes buy in, believe, and trust in the process, they will have the skills to be successful in the most important game; the game of life. We must acknowledge the hard work, sacrifices made, and celebrate the victories.

Finally, we must teach and help our athletes overcome and deal with adversity. I believe this is the greatest skill sport teaches, the ability to get back up and get back after it. It’s not how many times you get knocked down; it’s about how many times you get back up. As Rocky Balboa says, “It’s not about how hard you can hit, it’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward.”

How do you help create “living trophies”?

Thanks for reading, have a great week, and be an RGP today!