These are the words spoken by Piggy Lambert, former college coach at Purdue, and then spoken again by John Wooden, former master college coach at UCLA. My goal is for you to begin speaking them too.
John Wooden continues to say, “the truth is that the doer makes mistakes, and mistakes come from doing – but so does success. The player who is mistake free is also probably the one who is doing nothing to guarantee success, which is the biggest mistake of all.”
Are your athletes afraid of making a mistake? Maybe they don’t want to let down a teammate. Maybe they don’t want to let you down. Maybe they don’t want to get injured. Maybe they don’t want to be the cause of the team losing.
It’s time to change your team’s philosophy.
Mistakes are made when an athlete pushes his/her boundaries. The more comfortable an athlete is in training, the less they will improve. The more they challenge themselves, the more mistakes they will make. The more mistakes they make, the better chance they will have at realizing their true potential.
A water-ski athlete should never complete a training session without taking at least one fall or missing at least one buoy in the slalom course.
A gymnast, improving his parallel bars performance, should push the boundaries and miss his dismount.
A rowing crew should experience ‘out of sync’ moments in an effort to increase their power and momentum.
The focus should not be to go out there and make mistakes. The focus should be on improving your skills and tactics with the understanding that mistakes are a natural and welcomed part of the process.
Call to Action: Praise your athletes when they make a mistake. Do not praise the mistake itself, but rather the effort behind making the mistake in an attempt to master a new skill. Let your team know that even the greatest athletes make mistakes, not only in training but also in competition. They risk making a mistake so that they can reap the reward of winning and becoming the best athlete they can be.
Believe and Achieve
ps. What’s your comment?