Developing Championship Athletes
The following is an excerpt from my book Coaching Champions For Life:
Many of the solutions for improving an athlete’s performance are in improving their athleticism and physical development not in having them do more sport-specific drills.
The single biggest reason high school athletes do not develop into the best players they can be is they do not dedicate four-to-six months of the year exclusively to getting bigger, stronger, faster and quicker in ways designed specifically to improve them as athletes and for their chosen sport. Almost all great players were great athletes first.
Let me be clear here.
This is not necessarily a bad thing. If the athlete’s goal is simply to be the best team player he or she can be and to derive as much as they can from playing multiple sports, there is no need to dedicate a significant portion of the year to maximizing their individual development. Following closely the advice of good coaching during each sport season and taking appropriate care of themselves health-wise and in school will lead to very rewarding results.
However, if playing a sport in college at the highest possible level is the goal, or if consistently winning championships in a particular sport is the goal, then exceptional commitment beyond the season to maximizing individual athletic and sport skill development will usually be necessary.
I will describe here the process by which baseball athletes are most effectively trained, but this process applies to athletes in other sports as well. It is important to repeat that in every part of the mentoring process you must focus on the person first, then the athlete, and then the player. A pitcher cannot become on the mound what he is not in life. If you want him to be mentally tougher and more focused on the mound, you will need to first teach him how to do these things as a student and in life outside of school. If you want a player to be more explosive with their hips, you might first have to develop more mobility in the hips and more strength in their core before teaching them sport-specific drills to achieve the desired results.
This section of the book will discuss the second part of the process, i.e., training the athlete. See Chapter 1 for how to develop championship people; See Chapters 3 and 4 for how to develop championship baseball players.
Training athletes effectively and holistically involves three parts – preparation, reaction, and action.