About a week later, I happened to walk by while he was soaking in one of our high school games from a previous year. I watched with him for a little bit and noticed our team was struggling: there were missed shots, turnovers, and poor help defense. I saw myself call timeout to try to refocus the team’s efforts. As the players headed toward the sideline, they hung their heads and basically ignored each other.
I asked Zak if he noticed anything.
He replied, “We definitely were not playing well.”
I agreed, but I challenged him. “How did the players interact after we called timeout?”
“They didn’t,” he shared.
We talked about how sometimes it is really difficult to be a leader, especially when things aren’t going your way. However, those tough times are when your team needs you the most. My questioning quickly moved to finding out what the players on the court could have done differently. He explained they could talk to each other, try to pick each other up, give some high fives, and stand tall. I then figuratively placed him in the game and asked him what HE could specifically say… and then it dawned on me. We were doing Leadership Mental Training. He was thrusting himself into a difficult situation and visualizing how he could impact his teammates in a positive way.
We then constructed some steps that would be most beneficial for this new leadership development process:
- Find a game to watch
- Visualize yourself in the game
- When a teammate did something well, visualize what you could say to that player (you could even write it down). Visualize yourself going to that player and delivering your message & physical contact
- When a teammate was visibly struggling, how could you help?
- This is also beneficial because you force yourself to watch teammates body language and emotions. Knowing how to read your teammates, and how to help them when they need it, is essential for developing leadership.
- Call TIME OUT: you press pause like it was a time out while you watched
- must be done at least 2 times per quarter (or 4 times per half)
- visualize yourself talking/interacting/touching to each teammate as you walk toward the bench
- visualize what you would say to your coach/es
- visualize what you would do or say as your team breaks the huddle and heads onto the court
Try this with your team both in and out of season.