Athletes are becoming more skilled, stronger, faster, better conditioned, and more motivated every year. Teams must go above and beyond if they hope to win a championship. With the amount of skilled athletes increasing, the emphasis is coming down to physical conditioning. In football, games are won and lost on the line of scrimmage. Battles in the corners and in front of the net dictate the winner of a hockey game. Agile, well conditioned players control soccer and lacrosse games. Reflexes, power, and strength determine who the victor is in baseball. Many times in sports, the team who is better physically conditioned comes away with the win. Almost every coach is familiar with the saying “hard work beats talent, when talent does not work hard.” Well, hard work is related to physical conditioning. A better physically conditioned team can out work a less conditioned team in every situation.
A well physically conditioned team may be able to outwork other teams, but the ultimate factor is whether they want to put out a full effort. Motivation becomes the limiting factor when considering the amount of hard work a team exerts during a game. How do you get athletes to put forth a full effort every game? Respect. If an athlete respects every teammate he or she plays with, that athlete is more likely to put out a complete effort every game. Furthermore, the athlete must respect the coaching staff and be willing to put it all on the line for the coaches as well. With respect, the athletes begin to play for each other, and not for themselves. It is then a team truly becomes a team and has the ability to win a championship.
How, then, is respect earned? Respect is earned amongst players when they spend large amounts of time with each other. Respect is earned amongst coaches when they spend long periods of time strategizing and planning. Respect is earned between players and coaches when players see improvements in their game and a result of learning from their coaches. The obvious common denominator in all three of these scenarios is time. For players and coaches to earn respect, they must be exposed to each other for a large amount of time. The players and coaches will get to know one another and develop a bond. In turn, this exposure will lead to the players and coaches earning respect. The exposure will also lead to the less obvious denominator behind earning respect; competition. One of the first instincts an athlete has when preparing for a situation, whether it be a drill in practice or an exercise in the weight room, is competitive drive. Athletes simply do not like to be out done, and this happens from day 1. As athletes spend more time together, the competitive drive between them only increases, as every lift and every drill becomes a constant opportunity to show their dominance. For this reason I firmly believe that having a partner or a small group in the weight room is the best way to get the best out of an athlete. There are very few exceptions out there where an athlete will not benefit from the competitive drive of two athletes pushing each other in the weight room. Coaches can play that role to an extent, but the effect is not as great as it is between athletes.
From this I challenge you. I challenge you to find a consistent partner or group. Someone who you know you can’t stand losing too. Someone who you know that will be there competing alongside of you every day in the weight room, and during skills training, and during practice. I challenge you to keep track of who excels at which drill or exercise. And then I challenge you to win. If you approach each drill and exercise like it is a game, the results you will be able to achieve will be impressive.