Dr. Andrew Jacobs has been a sport psychologist for 25 years and has worked with all levels of competitive athletes from youth sports to the professional and Olympic level. He recently led a teleseminar with Fred Engh about "How to avoid and overcome the issues that can ruin your child's youth sports experience." Find out more information about this teleseminar or Dr. Jacob's other audio programs at winnersunlimited.com.
Coaches will have to have the knowledge and experience to know what to do in certain situations. However, if you ever listen to interviews with athletes on victorious teams, there will always be references to the importance of teamwork, trust and confidence.
Teams that lose will often mention that they had a breakdown of some kind in terms of confidence and teamwork, and that the team that won had an advantage in these areas.
So what is the key to building the trust and confidence you need to have in your team to be victorious?
I have always felt coaches have to be successful psychologists to understand their teams.
As a coach or manager, you have to know when to motivate, when to push your athletes and when they need a break. If you push them too hard, you run the risk of burning them out. If you don't push them hard enough, you will be frustrated in the end, because you failed to reach your goal.
A successful team usually ends up on top because the coaches know how to get all of the athletes to work together. The starters know their role, but the reserve players may be more important in the end, because they will have to come into the game often times after spending most of the game on the bench.
A successful coach will know how to keep these players motivated physically and mentally and make them feel just as important as the starting players. If you don't have bench players who understand their role, when your starters get into foul trouble or get injured it will be a lot harder to be successful.
Every successful team also must have a demonstrative leader or group of leaders who are not afraid to take charge at the right time. A leader will not only want to take the shot with the game on the line, but will also not be afraid to voice his opinion at the right time.
Positive leaders can motivate and inspire the other players to push themselves for the good of the team. Yet, at the same time, they will not be scared to get in another player’s space if they feel it will help the team reach their potential. Successful leaders are confident and usually are good communicators. They will help the coach push the team, but will also know that ultimately the coach is in charge.
I like to ask my clients the question: "Do you have to be successful to be confident, or do you have to be confident to be successful?" The teams that usually win the championship know the answer to this question, because it will come out when the pressure is on the most.