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20 Tips to Build a Championship Team - Part 1

Greg A. Shelley, Ph.D., compliments of Championship Coaches Network

"Most of the important things in the world have been accomplished by people who have kept on trying when there seemed to be no hope at all." - Dale Carnegie

What's the best way to build championship teams? Of course we know that in order to build successful teams, we need committed, confident, composed, and talented players who are willing to consistently work together and "grow" as a team. We also know that the best teams have strong coach and player leaders who are both vocal and willing to lead by example. And finally, we know the best teams have a climate of effective communication, strong motivation, individual responsibility, and both personal and team accountability.

No doubt, we desire both individual performers and teams to embrace the qualities and characteristics listed above. However, it is important to remember that great performers and teams are not developed overnight. Success usually takes longer and requires more work than expected. With that, we know that patience, perseverance, and a healthy response to setbacks and failure are very important as individuals and teams grow and mature. Whatever the obstacle, it is critical to "think success" as you prepare yourself and others for continued improvement. What follows are 20 Tips to Build a Championship Team.

1. Come and leave as a team - whenever possible . . . teams should arrive, play, and leave as a single unit (team). That means eat together, walk together, drive together, wait in line together, and set up and clean up together. Whatever you do . . . do it together.

2. Be a giver - look for every opportunity to give something to your team and teammates. Give your passion, enthusiasm, honesty, friendship, effort, hard work, determination, perseverance, time, leadership, and expertise. Whatever you do . . . give something of value.

3. Do the little things - when you do the little things . . . your teammates learn to count on and trust you. This is especially true when you do the things that nobody wants to do or expects you to do. So . . . spend extra time with an athlete before or after practice, take the lead with your off-season conditioning program, or hold your athletes accountable in response to their attitude, effort, and follow-thru. Remember . . . trust leads to loyalty . . . loyalty leads to commitment . . . and commitment leads to success. Whatever you do . . . do what needs done.

4. Every performer has a "boiling point" - everyone has that critical point (that extra degree) that redefines their commitment, effort, and intensity. Consistently "push" yourself and others outside their comfort zone - toward greater commitment and goal attainment. Get comfortable being uncomfortable. Whatever you do . . . role model the commitment and behaviors that you would like to see in others.

5. Every team has a "tipping point" - develop a core group of hard working and highly committed individuals that can take your team from good to great and move your team (tip your team) into that next level. This core group "sets the tone" for what is expected in terms of hard work, effort, and intensity. Whatever you do . . . take the time to develop a core group of highly committed leaders.

6. Respect is best communicated with a "thank you" - it's not that difficult . . . you just have to say it. Thank your coaches, your players, your teammates, your athletic trainers, the bus driver, those serving the food, and those cleaning the locker room. Whatever you do . . . say "thank you" . . . and say it often.

7. Stay in the present - the past is done and the future is uncertain (and not yet here) so be careful not to devote much time to either. Instead, stay in the present . . . your performance is "here and now" and your focus needs to stay "in the moment." Whatever you do . . . do it right here and right now.

8. Communication is mostly what we see - more than half of your communication throughout a day is non-verbal. So, take note of your facial expressions and body language and be sure that you are encouraging and empowering others in both what you are showing and what you are saying. Your verbal and nonverbal communication should be consistent and moving others in the direction of positive change. Whatever you do . . . say it and show it.

9. It's not about you - when you are "giving" and "serving" others . . . it cannot be about you. Helping others succeed and leading teams toward unity calls for a constant "other focus." It's about encouraging, empowering, and building others up . . . in words, actions, and demeanor. Whatever you do . . . put others first.

10. Attitude is everything - the task at hand is never as important as the attitude that it will take to complete that task. Your athletes' attitude is more important than their individual role, team status, playing time, knowledge, leadership role, or year in school. The great thing about your attitude is that you get to "pick it" every moment of every day. So, pick it wisely. Whatever you do . . . remember that you attitude is a choice.

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