For many coaches, success is measured solely by the wins and losses on the court. And if this is your team’s only definition of success, fulfillment may prove to be very hard to maintain. Don’t get me wrong, I believe it is important for a team to always give their best effort and game plan for victory. However, it will leave a very thin line for “success” if our definition simply stops there. Instead, it’s important for coaches to dig deeper as they define success with their athletes and teams.
While there could be a million different lists for calculating success, there are four key pillars that must be present to define success for any team or organization.
- Seek Continued Improvement
Simply put, this is the idea of becoming “Better Every Day.” It’s this relentless pursuit of the best version of yourself that allows you to find success that is deeper and more impactful than lights on any scoreboard. It’s the idea that we have to stop comparing ourselves to others, and start competing with ourselves on a daily basis.
- Keep A Magnifying Glass Handy
You must be willing to do the small stuff to get the big victory. While it’s important to know what must be accomplished on a large scale to find success, we as coaches shouldn’t neglect the opportunity to analyze the little things on a daily basis. From a team perspective, this could include things like 5-10 minutes of daily film study, spending the first 10-15 minutes of practice focused only on specific fundamentals, or not moving on to the next drill until the current one is being accomplished with excellence.
- If It’s Important, Measure It!
Pop quiz time. Coaches, do your players know the three things you value most on offense and defense? How do you measure those things in practices and in games?
I’ve asked those two questions of coaches all across the country, and it’s unfortunate how few coaches actually take the time to define them for their teams! If we as coaches are truly going to define success in other ways than the scoreboard, we must give our teams clear expectations of what wins on every possession look like.
As a coach, we can’t only say what’s important. Just because you and your players know what you expect, that doesn’t mean it’ll automatically happen. Coaches must live out those beliefs by tracking them and analyzing the results on a daily basis.
- Learn Through Losing
Ouch. This one is definitely the toughest. Obviously, no one likes to lose. But what separates true champions from others is their ability to learn through their losses. Olympic track and field champion Wilma Rudolph said it this way:
“Winning is great, sure, but if you are really going to do something in life, the secret is learning how to lose. Nobody goes undefeated all the time. If you can pick up after a crushing defeat, and go on to win again, you are going to be a champion someday.”
We are a collection of our habits, and this self-evaluation of our failures is what will lead to more successful, consistent habits. We must stop focusing on a single moment or game to define our success, and instead, focus on the journey to developing the best version of ourselves.
That’s a true definition of success.