Photo: Andy Hilton/recruit804
Coach Lew Johnston shares his wisdom and experience on the topic of attitude
Coach Lew Johnston has a blog of his own called “Coaching the little things” that you can check out. It’s a great resource for information, plus Lew is an expert in coaching the classic “Wing T” offense. Thanks to Lew for his contributions to recruit757.com and to the community! – AH
by Lew Johnston, a special contribution to recruit757
A young coach posed a question to me the other day which makes for a good topic to write about.
He shared how his team had gone from the “out house to the penthouse” in one season! The euphoria of that special season has still not worn off. Unfortunately, it’s now holding the players’ mind captive! The staff is having a very difficult time motivating them to work hard this spring. He fears that their “we’ve been to the mountaintop” attitude does not bode well for the upcoming season! He wanted to know how I handled this after one of our championship seasons. I shared a couple of things. Here they are:
1- I don’t think you want to totally destroy their swagger. Confidence can be a fleeting thing. It doesn’t take much adversity for a lot of adolescents to “cave in” their positive attitude. That’s why I like a great statement I first heard from Pastor Mark Batterson. He says: “Stay humble. Stay hungry.”
That says a LOT! It gives a coach a platform to talk about “balance.” Be proud of what you accomplished but don’t turn into a bragger. (Stay humble… and thankful for what you accomplished.) I think it’s the cockiness that destroys work ethic. It becomes a “look what we DID” instead of a “look what we still have to DO!” Thus, the need to (constantly) remind your players: STAY HUNGRY! Complacency destroys motivation.
That leads to point number 2: I think you need to be “preaching” attitude every time you get with your players! They are doing the hard physical work in the weight room. But, they need “mental” training just as much. Presenting the same message in different ways is an art that only a coach who develops his communication skills can share. Having a file full of “stories” is how one is able to do this. If you tell the same story over and over, it gets stale and its impact lessens with each repetition.
I would suggest looking at athletes, singers, movie stars— famous people, who, when you share their story, the kids will recognize the name. Examples of how someone got a big head and stopped working hard— and suffered the consequences— is a terrific wake-up call. Lines from movies (especially sports movies) can have tremendous impact also. I love the scene from Facing The Giants where the coach is challenging the player to keep bear-crawling down the field!!! It’s worth showing every season.
3- Finally, check your enthusiasm level. Are you as energetic? Are you challenging the players? OR… are you “sitting on your laurels” too? Check your own attitude before you start complaining about the players.
– Lew Johnston