Performers vs. Competitors

Today, as I do so many days, I was walking my dog and listening to podcasts on my phone. These have been a real go to in keeping my mind engaged and active. My most recent listen is Bucky Macmillan who is the head basketball coach at Samford University and the insights he gives into coaching todays athlete is a must listen for coaches no matter what the sport.

What I found interesting was his definition of a good coach. He said a good coach is not usually the best x’s and o’s person, which seems to be the prerequisite in minor sport. It is assumed that if you have great technical insight you must be a good to great coach. Coach MacMillan said that the great coaches understand the athlete better and teach them how to be better competitors rather than performers. They realize they have to connect with them on some level so they can better communicate with them. That does not mean you have to be there friend. What it means is that you are willing to invest your time, your knowledge, in making this person a better human and a better athlete. Great players want to be coached. Phil Jackson coached Mike Jordan, Scott Pippen, and Kobe. He found a connection and used it to make them better. The average player who makes the decision not to be coached will be average and that is the best they will ever be and will wonder why as they sit in a bar and say “I was better than him”.

I have watched over a thousand games of minor hockey and have a friend who has probably watched five times more than me. For years I asked him why a certain team that had talent was under performing. He always told me Coaching. I thought x’s and o’s, that is until five years ago. He took over a very talented team that was underperforming, but still in first place. He made an immediate connection with the players. Some did not like the connection, never the less it was connection. They were pushed, poked, and challenged. In a very short time they went from an underperforming first place team to a highly competitive first place team running systems that were two levels higher. It then struck me, not all coaches can make this connection happen. Some coaches are performers not competitors, just like players. They perform to please parents, associations, and colleagues. They assemble the best talent and because of that they usually win. However, when they come up against a team that has less talent, but are coached to compete they are now out of their comfort zone and have a hard time winning.

I was and still am an athlete who has average talent, but a pretty decent competition level. I leveraged my competition level and work ethic to my advantage. It took me way too many years to figure it out, but I did. The practice ground was my lab where I did some pretty strange things. This was the place where you could compete and make all sorts of mistakes. There were no consequences. I did not perform on the practice tee, I competed. It was frustrating at times, but learning how to handle frustration was the added bonus. That’s part of being a competitor.

See I told strange things happen in the lab!

Until next time.

Be well, be safe.

Follow on twitter  @Betweentheears2

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