When Jerry Krause was General Manager of the Chicago Bulls, he once said to Michael Jordan the oft quoted expression, “There is no I in TEAM.” Jordan retorted by saying, “But there is an I in WIN.”
What does it take to win? I believe there are five components that must be present to win in athletics. I believe these five ingredients are present in winning in all areas of life. They are especially important to the success of leaders in any endeavor undertaken.
I coached basketball for 44 years – 10 at the high school level and 34 at the collegiate level. There is no question in my mind that you need talented players to win.
Coaches who think their teams win because they are geniuses are dead wrong. In fact, they are certifiably crazy! A coach can take mediocre players and make them competitive, and many coaches do just that, but winning championships takes a higher level of players.
There is one disclaimer about talented players. Talent alone will not win championships. It’s only talented players who are willing to play together that win at the highest level.
When I was coaching at the University of St. Francis in Joliet, Illinois, we had three outstanding players who came to us at approximately the same time – Billy Meyers, Paul Stachowicz, and Dave Wilhelmi. All three of them were terrific players and could have played at a level higher than ours. We also had talented players who complemented them.
In an instant, I became an okay coach! It’s funny how that works! I believe we won 19 of our last 21 games, beat a Division I team at their place, were runners-up at the National Catholic Basketball Tournament, beat two teams that won about 25 games each in the first two playoff games, and ended the season one game away from the NAIA National Tournament.
Could we have won at that level without our three arrivals? NO!
It takes special people to be on a championship team. Most, if not all of us, appreciate recognition and awards, but great teams must have people who are willing to sacrifice their individual glory for the team glory.
This sacrifice can be very difficult for some athletes. However, winning big will not happen if these athletes do not buy into unselfishness, into the team-first concept.
We had a stretch at St. Francis where we finished first or second in the Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference in fifteen years of an eighteen-year period. We vied for the championship in each of these fifteen years.
We were blessed with talented players who had the desire to win, and I cannot remember ever having to address unselfishness with any of those teams. From their high school athletic years, they already knew it was about “we,” not “I.”
Recently, ten of our players got together to support a teammate who lost his wife. Their commitment to TEAM, which happens often in athletics, has lasted long past their playing days.
Winning teams prepare. I have always believed in the 5 P’s – Proper Preparation Prevents Poor Performance. In the athletic arena, you play as you practice; you win when you prepare to win. It is all about the preparation.
I made numerous errors in my coaching career, but one stands out above the rest. I was a young coach at the time and thankfully learned a valuable lesson, albeit the hard way.
I was coaching at Providence High School in New Lenox, Illinois and we got off to a great start, beating schools much bigger than we were. I believe we began the season 10-1, losing only to the previous year’s Iowa State Championship team by 2 points.
After this start, we had a weekend coming up where we were going to play two opponents whom we were better than. We simply had better players than they did. So, mistakenly, I told our players I had pushed them hard the previous 5-6 weeks and I was going to let up some in our practices.
The first team came to our gym, totally outplayed us, and gave us a sound beating. We had to play the next night on the road, did not recover from the previous night’s loss, and lost again.
What a lesson for Coach Sullivan!
Winning doesn’t always mean being first. Winning means you’re doing better than you’ve ever done before.” —Bonnie Blair
Coach Jack Ramsay, the outstanding college and pro coach, used to stress, “Defense is the great equalizer.” We believed that and spent considerable time studying opponent’s game videos. We were looking for the “little things” we could do to disrupt their offensive execution. It can be one small change that can make the difference between victory or defeat.
article from success