We all start lifting without weights on the bar…

How quickly you add weights and how many weights you add, all depends on the number of reps you’re willing to put in.


Lifting the bar without weights isn’t an embarrassment; it’s part of the process. I wish I had the maturity and self-confidence as a scrawny high school freshman to recognize that.


I, like so many others chose not to get in the weight room because I didn’t feel strong enough to work out. Not embracing the process that gets you stronger because you currently aren’t strong enough is as foolish as it sounds. In my immature mind, it’s what felt right in the moment.  I hesitantly embraced the lighter reps despite needing them to get to the heavier reps.


This same thought process has infiltrated the minds of our young players as it relates to leadership. Players are allowing current deficiencies prevent them from future proficiency’s.


I recently spent time in Iowa working with high school athletes and I was reminded through our leadership work that many of our athletes are lifting their “leadership bar” without weights on them.


Players participated in a variety of situational training exercises we utilize in our program and what we saw was rather painful. The ability to communicate, work through different real-life situations and handle various team dynamic issues; wasn’t easy for the players.


They struggled. They weren’t confident. They were uncomfortable.


It was admittingly uncomfortable to watch for many people. Not for me though. I recognize it’s part of the process. I know these players are a “work in progress.” At the same time I also recognize there’s no progress without the work, so that leads me to question for coaches: are your players getting reps as leaders?


Basketball drills can be done by most players with their eyes close. Ask a player to dribble with their left twice, go through their legs and lay-up with their right and it’s absolutely no problem for them.


Ask that same player to handle a situation with player A, who’s dealing with X circumstance that’s effecting the team in Y manner and if not resolved could result in Z consequences for the team is a matchup that is not favorable for the player.


This challenge isn’t exclusive to players in Iowa, it’s fairly consistent across the country. Occasionally we have players that “just get it” and what a breath of fresh air they are. But most aren’t there yet.


The players need their reps. The process needs to begin. Here are 3-steps to help getting a few weights on your players “leadership bar” today.


  • Begin asking them for advice


“Can I tell you about a situation I was in today… how would you have handled that?” Ask your players questions like that. Start stimulating their mind to begin thinking about things they’ve otherwise never would have thought about. Allow those questions to begin dialogue and additional questions.


  • Start providing them resources


Share with them podcasts, blogs, magazine articles, etc., they should check out and ask them to share a few of their takeaways from them. Did you enjoy _______? What got your attention while you were listening to ____________? Every leader you know is constantly learning, our players should be no different.


  • Keep it going


So often coaches share good things they’re doing with and for their players to better develop them as leaders but more often than not, they share how they unfortunately “got away from it” mid-way through the season. If not earlier. Have you ever lifted weights, took a month off and then tried to resume at the same weight you left of at? Chances are you’ll feel weaker than ever. This is why in Lead ‘Em Up we encourage our program to be used by teams EVERY week. Going a few weeks and then taking the next few weeks momentum is never gained, progress is only followed by regress. Keep it going so the player can continue building on what they’ve started building.


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Lead ‘Em Up provides high school and youth coaches an engaging and dynamic curriculum designed to equip coaches with the tools to teach their players the dynamics of leadership and character.

The season-long Lead ‘Em Up curriculum includes a player assessment tools, illustrative stories, week-long player activities, situational training exercises and interactive games from our friends at game on Nation.

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