Two Sides of The Game

Dec 28, 2018

Two Sides of the Game

We hear it.  How can you not?  It’s everywhere we go. The players say it, the coaches say it, athletic director’s talk about it, and parents have even said it.

Why are we spending time developing leaders when we should be practicing?

Shouldn’t we be working on our game instead of spending time working on our leadership? I signed up to play ball not to be in a leadership program. So whether it’s one of those statements or something closely resembling them we’ve heard it all.

To anyone who’s ever thought that or may be thinking it; I want to apologize for not communicating clear enough on why it is so important we spend the time building leaders in our team.

There are two sides to the game; on one side you have skills and schemes; this refers to our talent and coaching.

On the other side you have leadership and character; leadership what we do and character who we are.

Talent Is Not Everything

If you’ve been around sports long enough you’ve seen teams that are extremely dominant on the skills and schemes side of the game. Their talent is incredible. Their athleticism is enviable. Unfortunately they lack on the leadership and character side. Their teams look like a bunch of individuals playing for themselves, a team that lacks energy and enthusiasm, begins finger pointing at the first bit of adversity, doesn’t communicate well and walks around showing their displeasure all over their body. This team can still be good but lacking the leadership and character they aren’t able to reach their full potential.

On the flip-side we see teams with incredible leadership and character; a team that works hard, pays attention to the details, encourages one another, holds each other accountable, has incredible enthusiasm, laser sharp focus, and is all about the team. Unfortunately they don’t have the skills and schemes needed to be very good so they aren’t able to accomplish all the things they hoped to accomplish.

If only our teams could bring both sides together. When teams successfully bring both sides of the game together they live in an exclusive place, a place we call “special.” Not everyone gets to reside in this place, It’s only reserved for those who are… special. This pursuit of developing both sides of the game should be the pursuit of every team.

Working on the skills and schemes is the obvious part of sport, recognizing the need to work on leadership and character can be the thing that sets you apart.  As 2017 United Soccer Coaches Coach of the Year, Howie Putterman once said, “I’ve always been a good coach but it’s when I started coaching the other side of the game; the leadership and character, that’s when I became a championship coach.”

It’s going to take more than just talking about leadership and character to get the get your players heart’s to change.  The good news is leadership is a skill and your players know better than anyone how you improve any skill. Practice! You’ve got to get your reps. This applies as equally to skill development as it does to leadership development.  You may wonder is leadership really a skill and how do we know it is indeed a skill? Easily, because people get better at it. Over time they developed skills and became a greater leader.

Build Something Special 

So for those players, coaches, athletic directors, and parents questioning why we are sacrificing practice time to work on our leadership you simply remind them; we are focused on building something special.

And in order to have a team that has it all we have to work on it all.

For many, the jury is still out if leadership and character is really “that important.”  No one would argue leadership and character is important but is it important enough to include it in the schedule and possibly substitute something else out in order to not miss it?

When the leader improves, everybody wins!

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