In his bestselling book Start with Why, Simon Sinek discusses the very core principle that we should consider when aiming for success: what is our end goal? It suggests that only by looking at the end result can we shape our behaviours to achieve it.
This would too make sense when looking at the principles of success in relation to sport.
It’s hard to think of another industry where goal-setting is so evident. With training, qualifications and competitions part of the day-to-day requirement, it’s no surprise that sports coaching has become such an integral part of the process.
So then, in order to mentor true champions and get the best out of our athletes, what can we do more of? What processes can we put in place and how can these align with a far greater purpose? In this article, we’ll look at this in greater detail.
What is Success?
Success is a word that can mean many different things to many different people. Take for instance the Olympic Games – the pinnacle competition for any athlete. For some, success is just being part of the event, to be able to say ‘I was there’. For others, perhaps more accomplished or driven, success means medalling, and for others still the pursuit of a gold medal is the only happy outcome.
As a sport coach, it’s our job to get the very best out of our athletes by putting a framework in place. This includes short-term, medium and long-term goals. Each one getting you closer to that dream.
Success therefore needs to be defined from the very start in objective setting. But it must be understood that it will take time, commitment and dedication to get there, with many mini-objectives, successes and failures, along the way.
The Importance of a Process Focus
If you’re simply just chasing a medal without any strategy in place, it’s likely that you won’t succeed. That is because, a well-honed process is what ultimately gets you there.
And as a sport coach, it’s one of the defining parts of our role to create such framework and strategy. As anyone knows, under pressure emotions can take over. This is less than desirable in sport where focus and discipline need to override emotion. Having a focus and a process will help to keep you on-track. This is why routines and mental preparation play such an important role in athlete training programmes.
First and foremost, a process needs to be bespoke to each individual or team. It can vary from training techniques to team strategies. Mental preparation is a core fundamental in this process. Understanding how to manage emotions under stress is significant in sports psychology training. Breathing techniques, imagery and meditation are all techniques used by athletes across the board. But each have honed them to their specific needs in collaboration with a sports coach.
And why is this important? Well, the key to having a routine is that is creates familiarity and a standard to follow. So that even under pressure, such as competitions and events, the athlete is able to remain process focused on their goals. By time an event comes around, their routine should fall in to place almost automatically.
Behaviours for Success
The principles of success start with a set of behaviours. Whether as a team or individual the sports coach has a duty to lay the foundation for this from the get-go, these can include the following:
- Team members knowing what their objectives are. Furthermore, they must be able to articulate these clearly.
- Roles and processes are clearly defined – everyone should know what they are doing, nothing is left to chance.
- Athletes are well-versed in their strategy and what they need to do, so that it can be implemented easily, especially under pressure.
- Individuals have well-rehearsed routines and competition plans that they have practiced.
- Processed-focused language is an end-to-end requirement for everyone
- Remaining focused – most important of all, the team and individual remain focused on the outcome.
How to Implement a Process Focus
There’s a number of ways that a sports coach can help define a process focus for success.
First of all, it’s important to craft and express purpose with authenticity. This goes back to the notion that a team that understands its roles and purpose, is one that stays focused.
Secondly, is constantly reviewing and evolving strategies in place. Much like having a pre-event routine, it’s important to have a well-rehearsed systematic approach in place. But as teams change and grow, this needs to be redefined and reviewed to get the best out of everyone.
Thirdly, a team needs time to hone their techniques and learnt routines. Therefore, the sports coach needs to ensure there is ample opportunities to practice process both in training and in competition.
Finally, it’s worth remembering that evidence-based training is important here. Bias has a tendency to creep in, which can influence individuals and steer them in the wrong direction. Being consciously aware of this will help minimise its occurrence.
It Is often wrongly thought that success should be driven by ambition and emotion. Sure, there is a place for those emotions in sport, since they can drive passion and motivate. However, success in sport is the result of a well-honed well-rehearsed slick operation that leaves nothing to chance.
From nutritional intake before a game, to having key players to turn to for penalty shoot-outs, every part of an athlete or team’s performance is planned to perfection.
Success is not something that happens by mistake, and it certainly doesn’t happen overnight. Success is the result of having a process that is aligned with a greater purpose. That purpose is the team or individual performing to its maximum ability, because in the end, that’s all that a sports coach can ask of its team.
Related Articles from Sport Resilience:
- Personal Values Drive Behaviour
- Why Thriving Is Everyone’s Business