To have a successful career and life one must have a philosophy. You can’t do everything well, so you must have a sound belief system in place as your foundation. The foundation of any great sports program or business is the philosophy. This week I will share with you my basic philosophy for a sports program. I am confident this can be transferred to the business world and allow you to be successful as well.
A large influence in my teaching and coaching life has been my uncle, Charlie Elmendorf. He has been in education and coaching for close to 30 years. I was fortunate to have him as my football coach in high school. We had a great team, going 30-5 in three seasons, winning two conference championships, two district championships, and making it to the state semifinals my senior season. I bring these accomplishments up not to brag but rather to illustrate what can come from a sound philosophy. Uncle Charlie has continued his success in the years since my class graduated. He once again has his team making a run in the state playoffs. I am sure he will tell you that his sustained success is a product of his philosophy. He has tremendously influenced my coaching philosophy. From my high school years I knew I wanted to be a teacher and coach. I was fortunate to be in a great environment where I could model and mold my philosophy based off of what I was able to experience as a student athlete.
I am going to share with you my basketball philosophy; it can be used in football or any other sport because it’s not about the sport. It’s about people. It’s all about how you treat and what you do with people. Our program is result oriented in a people environment. Our goal is to create a close-knit, goal-reaching group, which works hard and believes in the family concept. It is vital that we recognize the contributions that are made by all team members and that we develop a collective sense of trust. Without trust not much can be accomplished. In order to establish trust you must give 100% effort, 100% of the time. You must care for all team members.
Basketball is a passionate game. It is an emotional game and must be played with feeling. Those who fail in sports and life often falter in the face of adversity. This is what’s great about basketball and sports. It teaches us how to deal with and respond to adversity. If nothing else, I want my players later in life to be able to look adversity in the face and not blink. The strong survive because they persist and get up. The harder we work in practice each day, the tougher it will be to surrender.
In order to develop this family mentality and sense of strength, there are seven qualities that we strive to instill in our program. First, you must promote a team concept. Successful teams are built around individual talent that is molded into a team environment. A coach has to get his players to believe that it’s not about the name on the back of the jersey; it’s all about the name across the chest. The team always comes before any individual award or honor.
Secondly, we are committed to being first-class people on and off the court. What makes a top program is the caliber of people within the program. We believe in character development and education. I use daily quotes, words of the week, stories, and pictures to teach our athletes character education.
Our program also teaches our athletes to keep their priorities in order. Faith must be at the top. Whatever their faith may be, it is number one. Next is family and then comes education. Basketball comes last. One cannot be a good athlete if they don’t have the first three priorities in order.
Respect and acceptance of all teammates is a fourth trait we aim to develop. All individuals are different and have different personalities and outlooks on life. We will respect one another as individuals. There is no ridicule of any team member or coach. Issues will arise because kids are involved. When they do arise, we must come together to reach the best resolution possible for all parties involved.
In addition, each season we will spend close to 200 hours practicing. It would be foolish for anyone to spend that amount of time doing something they did not enjoy. For us, practice is the best part of the day. Our goal is to be the hardest working team in the state. Success takes a great deal of hard work and sacrifice but it is also very enjoyable, if we make it so. In order to make it enjoyable, we coordinate fun challenges into practice and have many team bonding events throughout the season.
Next, we as humans all have dreams and goals. As coaches and athletes we have dreams of championships and state tournaments. What I am convinced of and what I must convince my players of is this, “Nothing worth having comes free.” To accomplish our dreams and goals, we must pay a price. The higher the goal, the higher price we must pay. The price for us is hard work, sweat, discipline of mind and body, and a dedication to what it takes to be a total athlete. If we refuse to pay the price then we cannot expect to accomplish our goals.
The seventh thing we instill is the ability to, “Stop and smell the roses.” This not only in enjoying our on court successes, but also realizing just how fortunate we are. In order to illustrate this we have “Thankful Thursdays” every week. We must take time to give thanks for our families, our education, and the many talents and abilities we possess. High school athletics offer an excitement that is unique and hard to duplicate later in life. We must take time to enjoy the experience and give thanks for the incredible opportunity we have been given.
The philosophies of a successful program are based on the same qualities that make for a successful life. Winning involves successfully combining loyalty, leadership, knowledge, determination, persistence, and effort toward your goal. I have a talented team this year and I am confident that if we take this philosophy and instill it in our players, we will have a very successful season. If the basics of this philosophy are applied to the business world, they will lead to success.
Thanks for reading, take care, have a great week, and be a RGP!