The #1 Way to Influence Your Athletes / by James Leath

The building my office is in is named after one of the greatest coaches of all time, John Wooden. My shelves are lined with his books and with other authors who mention him in their writings. His influence lives on through my coaching philosophy and that of thousands of people from all walks of life. Every morning, espresso and newspaper in hand, I sit down and turn on my computer to get my day started. I keep my desk free of clutter except for one post-it. On it reads words from “The Wizard of Westwood” himself, John Wooden, who is on the short list of mentors (passed on and alive) I keep close to my heart. It writes:

“No written word, no spoken plea can teach our youth what they should be. Nor all the books on all the shelves, it’s what the teachers are themselves.”

We can teach and preach until we are blue in the face, but if we do not live the words we say, our audience knows, they notice.

When we tell our athletes to show up to practice on time, then we show up late, they notice.

When we say no cell phones at practice, then we pull ours out for a phone call or a text, they notice.

When we insist our athletes keep their cool during the game, but lose our temper on a bad call, they notice.

Give your athletes a reason to want to listen to you. Show them (instead of trying to only tell them) how a grown man or woman lives. Set the standard high, then live it. Only then will your words have the influence and conviction you hope they have on your audience.

Even if you don't think they are watching, they are always watching. Always.