There may be people that have more talent than you, but theres no excuse for anyone to work harder than you do.
- Derek Jeter
Within the life of an athlete, learning how to provide the appropriate level of consistent effort for excellence could be the most important topic for sport/life success, skill development, and participant enjoyment. Effort is an attribute that coaches and caring adults can teach which will stay with the learner for a lifetime and transfer from activity to activity.
Trying hard, doing your best, or consistently working to improve skills are often expected from coaches at all levels but do they ever attempt to teach athletes how to consistently provide these types of effort? Are expectations shared with the team on a daily basis defining effort, creating an environment of consistent effort, and making effort an intricate part of team success? Numerous coaches I have worked with focus on the technical or tactical development and miss the big picture of teaching effort which would only enhance their ability to get across the details of the game. Effort seems to already be expected to be an attribute that participants know how to consistently perform. Coaches that do not share expectations for effort on a daily basis will not get a consistent effort during all training and games.
How does a young athlete learn how to provide the appropriate level of consistent exceptional effort during all games and training sessions? Some attempted methods from the athlete I have noticed include:
- What worked within past experiences.
- The effort other members of the group are providing.
- The perceived effort that a favorite player seems to provide.
It is especially difficult for the participant to move from a “B” team to an “A” team, junior varsity to varsity or into their freshman year of college play due to not fully comprehending the effort expectation and not really having to give a full effort to be a success at the lower level of play. These individuals usually have the skill level needed to be a success but do not understand how to provide the consistent effort that is needed every day in training and games to get on the field/court and have an impact. In other words, not enough time was spent by their coach painting a picture of what consistent effort looks like to create success at advanced levels of play.
Coaches that make a difference in the lives of their athletes have individual and team conversations about effort expectations. They verbally reward in private conversations and in team meetings the participants that excel in providing the type of consistent effort that is expected. The exceptional coach that teaches effort may also provide a statistical value to effort in training and games that is measured to evaluate the level of effort provided. An example of promoting team effort could be the team having a daily ballot when concluding practice to vote for which athlete provided the consistent, high-level effort that is expected for each session and game. A small award presentation the following session such as leading the warm-up or wearing an “Effort” armband or shirt would provide immediate feedback to the team about how important effort is to individual and group success.
Player success is enhanced by coaches that consistently point out the importance of providing effort within all aspects of life. Be the coach and leader that makes this a priority for the month of October and beyond.
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