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The Difference Between Winning and Losing

Over the past 10 years of coaching in college, I’ve been on both ends of the winning and losing spectrum. Teams at the beginning of the season that I thought had a good shot at finishing 1st, did not live up to expectations, while teams that I did not expect to do as well, finished the season better than anticipated. I think John Dunning would attest to the latter with his freshman loaded NCAA Championship team.

What makes a team great and others not as successful? An underlying topic on the minds of all coaches, yet the answer is simple: there is not one thing that makes a team successful. In fact, there are not two or three things that make a winning team. It is a multitude of things within a culture that breeds success: expectations, standards, values, chemistry, attitude, systems, technique, and always a bit of luck. All directed by a steadfast leader with a passionate mission that consistently maintains the culture of their program.

It’s like the magic drill. Coaches are seeking that one drill, the drill of all drills, that will make their team great. There isn’t one drill, or two, or three. It’s a group of core drills, that cover a variety of skills and systems, that can be measured over time, that produces a great team on the court.

Part of the answer is in the question, ‘Does winning define success?’. A discussion for another post.

The biggest difference I have found between winning and losing is the fans! How the fanatics act and react to a winning team versus a losing team. As a coach, I have always believed in the values I preach. Over the years, the core of who I am, as well as the way I coach and treat athletes, has remained consistent. Yet, on a team that is winning, the praise and recognition from fans increase exponentially as winning increases. On a losing team, a few losses in a row and it feels as if people avoid us like the plague. We are still the same people, same coaches, that preach the same message, win or lose.

We certainly appreciate those that support us the same, win or lose, that recognize our success by our values and the way we treat people. Yet we understand it is the nature of the beast that is sports…as winning increases so does everything else. I guess I’ll keep the same values, treat people the same…and keep on winning 🙂

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