Picture day…. the day in the preseason that breaks up the routine of developing for the start of football season. I am like most coaches worrying that this day will bring lack of focus and unstructured time when building discipline is at the forefront. The process of getting so many new faces dressed, teaching them proper uniform etiquette, and ordering them appropriately can be tedious. Pictures at the stadium can bring more challenges as the heat, sun, and sweat can quickly lessen one’s patience. When this day is over most coaches exhale a sigh of relief and are ready for the next step in the fall camp process. Coaches can look at this day as a necessary evil or the mark of the beginning. This time is like the picture a trainer takes beforehand to show the progress your body makes after months of workouts. We realize that past success or failure doesn’t equal future success or failure. This is the very beginning and each team has a fresh canvas to start the season. Every great artist starts with a vision so that every stroke of paint has purpose and intention. What is the picture you visualize of your players and team at the very end? Your leadership of habits, actions, and choices should match this on a daily basis. Each year it is important that we start with a frame of our finished product. Think with the end in mind, what do you visualize as a Coach, Player, and Team.
“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” -Philippians 4:8
As a Coach, how do you visualize your mission each season in this profession? Ultimately our product is our player’s development and team performance. At the end of the season I want to know that we maximized our team’s ability level and developed players that are better prepared for the real world. In the preseason meetings our staff defines, “What should a player should look like leaving our Program.” This description should match our daily operation and basic system of player development. For example, if we say a player should leave respectful, accountable, hardworking, and a team player. Then our staff should make them say “yes sir and no sir”, have a “Winner’s” body language, define a self-standard, emphasize player appearance, don’t over look tardiness, don’t accept almost meeting standards, design tough demanding practices, and show value to everyone’s ability to help the team. I encourage a decision to coach with a vision of purpose and excellence. I promise seeking excellence everyday leads to winning on the field and maximizing your team’s ability level. Those whose vision is only winning will eventually lead to compromising core values and ideals. Maximizing your team’s ability can mean 6-4 or 15-0, many times the best coaching job is not the team most viewed in the media. Those that truly know this game identify these teams and know the coach will be a consistent success. How you paint your vision should not only equal your operation but will decide your final product.
“I ran on the road long before I danced under the lights”- Muhammad Ali
As a Player, I hope you dream of great moments and being the star in the big game. I love watching videos of the “Greatest Moments In Sports.” You get to relive Muhammad Ali beating Joe Frazier, Usain Bolt winning by daylight, Bo Jackson climbing the wall, Michael Jordan beating the Jazz, or Brady coming back in the Super Bowl. We picture ourselves doing the same things in our dreams and backyards. However, great moments do not happen by luck or a planned circumstance. How many times did Michael Jordan practice that jump shot? How many hours did Tom Brady throw precise routes to receivers? Every great moment equals an individual’s intense physical and mental training. Every great moment equals intense focus and playing at one’s highest level. As a player, realize your preparation is the moment. Your choices of mental and physical preparation must match your vision of performance. The consequence of great moments will be a repeat of your daily rehearsal. This season you are in complete control and understand time plays no favorites. Picture your dreams and be intentional everyday to make them a reality.
“Maximize your relationships and you will maximize your opportunities” -Coach Winegarden
As a Team, what will be your legacy? What will be the appearance of the final team picture? What will the lasting memory be with your teammates? Years from now your teammates will still be your teammates. You will receive a phone call bringing back the emotion and feeling of being 18 again. You will relive stories and catch up on your current status or family. However, it will be different because of changed circumstances and the process of life. Each team gets these seasons of opportunity to ride the bus, hang out in the locker room, walk the halls, train together, compete for the community, and strive together for something greater. Pause and picture that phone call years from now….. What stories and genuine relationships will you discuss?? You decide that visual everyday as you interact with your teammates. You decide that visual every night the lights cut on, the team name is across your chest, and the ball is kicked off. True joy is measured by the word “Completeness”. Make sure that the final picture is complete with joy for your relationships, joy by exhausting all effort for your team, and by finishing the race for a worthy cause. The highest level of performance is driven by the purpose of people. Teams that maximize relationships, maximize their performance in each opportunity.
A good friend of mine will say, “Playing sports is practicing life before you actually live it.” Every face in the team picture is painting a story that shapes their future. These baby faces will become more mature, learning lessons good or bad for application. Right now! In this season! Whether a coach, player, team, or person you have an unbelievable opportunity. Realize that we all have a starting point that needs direction and vision. Be intentional in your visualized picture and match your action to a realized dream.
You hold the brush and have a fresh canvas to paint….
“As a Coach, Player, Team, or Person….. Paint a Masterpiece”