Please join me for a fun series. My mission, and I’ve chosen to accept it, is to write a post based on each letter of the alphabet. The English major inside of me is very excited about this project…and my inner nerd is even more fired up! Keep checking back as I tackle the intangibles of sport…from A to Z.
Repondez s’il vous plait. That’s what RSVP stands for. Lucky for you, I know a little something about French, so I can tell you that translates to “please respond”. In my mind, that’s what everyone’s responsibility is to and on a team…to please respond. Taking it a step further, we’ve got to respond enthusiastically. Even when we’re tired, even when we’re losing, even when our class load is heavy. An enthusiastically positive response is always required when sports are involved.
As Yogi Berra put it so well: Whatever you do, you should do it with feeling.
The goal of any invitation is to answer basic questions (who, what, when, where, why) and if it’s a particularly fancy party, it’ll also answer “how”. Since I believe we’ve got to invite everyone in our program to be enthusiastic about our goals and the direction our teams are going, here’s my Enthusiasm Invitation!
Please RSVP “yes” if you’d like to have a high-functioning and successful team
Who? Quite simply, everyone. If the head coach isn’t passionate about the sport, the assistant coaches won’t be…and then your team won’t be. If your team isn’t enthusiastic about playing together, then the passionate fire of the fans will be squelched.
What? Passionate players and coaches prepare. They watch film and know the opponent’s tendencies. They give one hundred percent effort one hundred percent of the time. In the off season, players get after it in the weight room and are great hosts for recruits, while coaches spend their time filling positional needs through recruiting, fundraising, and connecting with alumni.
When? All the time. Good teams are fired up at the beginning of the season before homework starts beating the players down and playing time issues start to creep up. Great and successful teams are passionate about being together and playing hard even when things don’t feel awesome. Even when some players are unhappy with the amount of court time they’re seeing. Even when the coach is bone tired. Even when they’ve seen a bit of adversity. Enthusiasm isn’t “sometimes”, it’s “always”.
Where? Whenever we’re around one another. The good part about being on a team is that you know you’re never in it alone. I believe the burden of being on a team means that we’ve got to share the enthusiasm load. We’ve all coached that team where one person always is “the talker”, trying to fire her teammates up. That’s not fair to her, though, because she should be allowed to have an off day…and her teammates should pick her up. Passion for team and sport should be shared by everyone.
Why? Enthusiasm makes everything better. The cornerstones of John Wooden’s Pyramid of Success say to work hard and have fun. Having fun goes a long way to making practices go quicker and more effectively, to making the weight room produce more results, and to getting more out of video sessions. Enthusiasm is the opposite of just going through the motions and if we want our teams to be great, going through the motions just won’t do!
How? By doing it every day, no excuses. For coaches, it can mean being prepared with a well-thought out practice plan for each practice. For players, it can mean letting go of the academic day and pledging to be one hundred percent focused on their job as an athlete and team member. Of course there’s more, but that’s the base level for a passionate commitment to success.
Every invitation carries with it an obligation from the receiver, to please respond. Hopefully you and your team’s response will be yes!