May 13, 2014 • Coaching

Five characteristics of teams intent on success

Legendary UCLA men’s basketball coach John Wooden poses with his players after winning the 1971 NCAA championship.

“The road to achievement takes time, a long time, but you do not give up,” John Wooden once wrote. “You may have setbacks. You may have to start over. You may have to change your method. You may have to go around, or over, or under. You may have to back up and get another start. But you do not quit. You stay the course. To do that, you must have intentness.”

Wooden is among the greats; there’s really no other way to see it. I thumb through his book, Wooden: A Lifetime of Observations and Reflections On and Off the Court, at least once a week. In the section he devotes to intentness, he uses different words as synonyms to describe what intentness means to him.

I looked up that word to shed more light on exactly what intentness should mean to us with our teams. It turns out that it’s not just one thing, but a combination of five wonderful traits that all of us would love to see in our players.

Characteristics of teams intent on success

1. Determination. When I looked up this word, the definition that stood out to me was “firmness of purpose.” I often remind my team that it must be sure of its goals, because achieving them is hard. If players are not sure, it may just be too hard. Building our team goals on a firm foundation of belief helps our teams to be determined.

2. Persistence. “Constantly repeating” is what the dictionary had to say about this one. As a coach, I love that definition, because that’s another way of saying practice. If our teams are persistent in their approach to practices (and corrections within practice), then success is sure to follow.

3. Tenacity. I love this one too — “Holding together, cohesive, tough.” Like I talked about with determination, sometimes the road to success is difficult. Weak teams fall apart, and players start fighting amongst each other or forming cliques within the team. But strong teams? The hard times bring them together and make them a more cohesive unit.

4. Perseverance. “Steady persistence in a course of action, especially in spite of difficulties, obstacles or discouragement.” Can you imagine a season without difficulties? Have you had one without obstacles? Surely, there have been points during the season when your team is discouraged. In spite of it all, we press on, never losing hope that we’ll be successful in the end.

5. Patience. This one is tough for anyone: who really wants to be patient? Most of us would rather be successful now as opposed to later, but that’s not usually the way it works. Generally, you plug away, always doing things the right way, until your team (eventually) finds success. The definition: “the capacity for calmly enduring pain or trying situations.”

If we nurture these characteristics in our teams, I believe that we’ll be on our way to building successful teams, seasons and players.

Dawn Redd is the head volleyball and assistant track & field coach at Beloit College in Wisconsin.

Leave a Reply