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winners 1

“What do you see son?” asked the father. “I see the sun, clouds, leaves, grass, and the bird,” the young boy responded. The father nodded asked the boy to wait a minute. He then turned to his other son.

“What do you see son?” He asks again. The older boy says, “I see only the eye of the bird, father.”

The father nodded in approval and said, “Excellent, then shoot.”


Why do winners win on a more consistent basis than their rivals?

There are many possible directions this answer could go in, but I think it comes down to one thing: the ability to focus on what’s most important and stay in your lane. This means you’re only concerned with what you need to do. You don’t worry about what the competition is doing or saying.

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This past week the hashtag #PhelpsFace took over the social world.  Michael Phelps is once again taking the world by storm and dominating the Olympic Games. Prior to his showdown in the 200m butterfly Phelps displayed a look of intense focus while his rival, Chad le Clos, stood nearby and shadowboxed. It was an obvious attempt to intimidate and psych out Phelps.

How did Phelps respond to his opponents gestures?

Phelps contained his emotions until the race was over. He focused on what he had to do. He swam his race. He stayed in his lane. He didn’t look at the swimmers beside him. I’d bet my house he didn’t think about where his opponent was for one second of the race.

You don’t win the race or game in warmups, you win it before you get to the arena.

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One of my favorite images of the Olympic Games is this one above. Phelps is focused on what he can control, himself. While his opponent is focused on what he is doing.

Phelps was quoted is quoted as saying, “If I hit the times I want to hit, nothing else matters. Once I start thinking if I have to get ahead of this person or that person, then I kind of get out of my zone.”

Legendary coach John Wooden was not a big fan of scouting his opponents. Why? Was he arrogant? No, he was quite the opposite. Wooden was focused on getting his players to compete against themselves to be the best they could be. He didn’t worry about the other team because he knew if players played hard, together, and to the best of their ability that the scoreboard would take care of itself.

“If you’re too busy learning the tricks of the trade, you may never learn the trade.”

~John Wooden

Winners win because they’re willing to do what others won’t. They use their time productively and wisely. If something is important to them, they prioritize it. If it’s not going to help them reach their goal, they eliminate it. Training never stops for those who want to win. They make the sacrifices necessary.

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There are so many distractions which athletes have to deal with today. The criticism from social media alone has to be overwhelming. Today’s athletes have to deal with so much more instant scrutiny. Forget the press, the memes today can be straight ruthless. This is why it’s so critical to stay in your lane and not worry about what is said.

Winners win because they don’t care about the competition. They are the competition. And they just flat out want it more and are willing to do more than others.

Here are five keys for high school coaches to develop winning teams.

Plan every minute of your practice. Details matter.

Scout your opponents less and yourself more.

Show your film more than your opponents.

Focus on the fundamentals.

Fight for your culture every day. Build leaders and teach character. It matters.


What are some methods you use to stay in your lane?


Coaches, do you have any tips you can share on how you build winning teams?


As always, thanks for reading, have a great week, and be an RGP today!




Coach Elmendorf is available to speak to your team, group, or organization. Message him for details.