Developing Champions

Tommy Cunningham
May 20, 2019

Developing Champions

A coach of an NBA team comes into the locker room and tells the team at the beginning of the season “we’re going to win the NBA championship.” The team gets fired up and gets excited about the idea of winning it all. There’s a problem with this though. EVERY team in the NBA has the same goal. Only one team can win the whole thing. Typically, the teams that win it all have the same goal but a different process on how to do it.

Championship teams aren’t developed by focusing on winning, or times, or comparing your achievements to other people’s achievements. Instead, championship teams are developed through developing champions. Think about how all the best teams, athletes, coaches communicate. They talk about the process, beliefs, perseverance, commitment, focus, being a great teammate. All things necessary to be a champion. This is something that everyone needs to be constantly reminded of. Especially us that are overly competitive about everything.

We see people constantly comparing themselves to others in terms of outcomes. We should instead push athletes to look at what makes the best great. Think about Katie Ledecky who is one of the most dominant athletes in the sport ever. Does she get in the pool on time? Does she go to practice to get better everyday or does she just try to get through it? Does she believe that she can do great things? Does she bounce back after a bad swim? Does she balance a challenging school schedule at Stanford with a challenging swim schedule without one suffering because of the other? Does she focus on the things she can control? Does she complain, whine, or make excuses? These are all things that require ZERO talent. These are things that were developed and have contributed to all the success that you see her having in and out of the pool. It didn’t happen instantly but it was developed over time.

How do we get athletes to do these things? Step one is to care about these things. The team, the coaches, the athletes, and the parents. Everyone wants to win, everyone wants the times, and everyone wants their achievements to be bigger than others. Focusing on them isn’t the strategy to get there though. It’s caring about the things that will develop you into a champion. This is something that EVERYONE can do. You need ZERO physical gifts to do these things. EVERYONE has the opportunity to develop into a champion both in and out of the pool.

Let’s develop a team of champions.