Next week my girl’s softball team will be playing in the PGF national championship, so I thought I would share this article.
The 12 Traits of a Champion by – John Michael Kelly
Whenever I coach or watch nearly any sporting event I am reminded of just how slim the difference between winning and losing really is in athletics.
In most every game played between two evenly matched teams or players, success or failure will come down to just a hand full of plays, right? The team or athlete that makes the plays, executes the best wins, don’t they? If you follow any larger tournament bracket you will find that the deeper the bracket goes the closer and lower scoring the games all get. Why is that?
Teams and athletes that win consistently do certain things that teams and athletes who don’t win consistently do not. This is true in every sport for it is always the little things that capture or cost victory.
Let’s look closer at what defines a champion with specific traits that can be learned then duplicated by your athlete and their team.
Here are the 12 traits of a championship level team (they are also the traits of a champion athlete as well):
- Attitude – Championship caliber teams have a swagger about them, an expectancy that they will play well. These type teams literally exude an energy of success. They have a “can do” attitude from the moment they get up in the morning!
- Confidence – Along with the champion’s swagger comes extreme confidence; almost cocky but never arrogant. Regardless of the score these teams never stop competing as they are supremely confident they will prevail when the game is over. They trust themselves to make plays, and never hesitate for fear of making a mistake.
- Relaxed – Along with confidence comes the ability to play the game relaxed. The more relaxed the less chance for mistakes or poor execution on the court or in the field. A relaxed mental state is the result of an expectancy for success.
- Focused – Championship caliber teams are extremely focused on their goal or purpose (the immediate task at hand). They can block out external and internal (mind) distractions during the game that sabotage an ordinary team’s success. They anticipate and always have a game plan for game situation.
- Team – Top teams play as a team. To them, there is no “I” in a team. They are gladly willing to sacrifice and do whatever it takes for their team to succeed and reach their goals. They know their role on the team and excel in it. They support one another unconditionally. There is rarely whining or drama on these teams. They play with great pride and passion.
- Fun – Championship caliber teams have fun! Because they play with such confidence and experience so much success they play loose, and it shows. They laugh and smile on the field or court regardless of the score or any mistakes made. They are the epitome of what sports is about…playing great with passion and joy!
- Relentless – The best teams keep coming at you. They love playing the game and are on “attack” mode from the very first moment of the game/match. They are always looking for the big play, putting pressure on the defense; they play aggressively on offense and defense. Champions sense momentum and when the victory is in sight they go even harder to finish off their opponents.
- Work Ethic – Champions simply work harder on both the physical and mental parts of their game. When they are tired they remember their goals and dig deeper. The bar for the effort is extraordinarily high on these teams and their performances show it. Each player is constantly striving to improve their weaknesses and turn them into strengths. They play with great desire.
- Students of the Game – Champion teams are comprised of players and coaches always driven to be their best. As such they are constantly observing the game, the opposition, games on TV, their own team (or personal game videos) to learn more about the game and themselves. Champions are always looking for an “edge” that will get them to the winner’s circle.
- Poise – Top teams play with extreme poise under pressure. In fact, they look forward to pressure games and pressure moments. Because they are relaxed, confident and focused they play poised and under control. Regardless of the game situation, they play at a consistent, peak level that assures their success.
- Extremely Prepared – Champion athletes and teams all share one common trait…extreme preparation! With both individual and team skill development champions never let any opponent out-prepare them. They also recognize the critical importance of devoting substantial time towards the development of their mental game as well as their physical game. In short, champions exhibit extreme willpower to prepare themselves to dominate on game/match day.
- Big Picture Thinking – Champion athletes, teams, coaches and parents all employ “big picture” thinking. They recognize that mastery of their sport takes time. They see mistakes and game/match failure as a great opportunity and challenge to get better. They enjoy the journey of becoming a champion by focusing on the process and the effort rather than solely on the results.
Even though you and I may witness errors and mistakes at the most inopportune time as the reason for the close losses these are just the effects and not the causes of defeat and failure. Each of the 12 traits covered hears plays an integral role, is a vital ingredient, in the ultimate success of any team or athlete.