Undefeated is the greatest achievement in a season. It means your record was without error, and you achieved perfection. Each season this is every teams goal. We have seen it several times in college football, and only once in the NFL. Fans can argue recruiting, schedule, conference, and many other variables, but in the end the record book is cemented at perfection or in other words undefeated.
It is evident that in order to be undefeated you must win. For the fan base, winning is the result of conquering an opponent during a contest. For the player, winning is possessing the undefeated mindset daily. Winners win daily, not just on the scheduled game nights. It is a daily mindset that leads to victories in contests, careers, and decisions. As coaches we break it down to a schedule. This usually contains workouts, weight room, practice, drills, individual time, team time, 7 on 7, competitions and many more. We spend a large budget on what “makes teams get better,” without looking at the most important tool that separates the winners and the undefeated. It does not take money, talent, or intelligence, and it cannot be bought in any store, catalog, or website. It is available to any human, and can be exercised, evaluated, and improved upon. It also is glaringly visible in any of the contests that we participate in on that schedule.
A little hint it has nothing to do with motivation or will power. I am all for those great pregame speeches. I have delivered some and witnessed countless ones, but as I get older I realized something. Motivation and Will Power are both temporary impulses. Many of us have failed on the new years resolutions, from dieting, working out, running marathons the list is keeps going. We become some motivated to change and possess that will power to clean up our eating, only to find before March, that motivation has faded. We fall back into our old self. The reason can be whatever excuse that you make, but the biological issue is the change was not one from a consistent mental level, but a temporary impulse. It was destined to fail from the beginning. The mental preparation to changed was less than the decision to remain committed to the goal. As coaches, we can have the most superior athletes (in weight room and on field), but without mental toughness you will win only during times of impulse or motivation. It will not be consistent. When things get difficult most people find something easier to work on. It is far easier to break a resolution, than to break a habit. It is far easier to lose the feeling of a pregame speech, than to make a tough decision during a crucial point of a game.
So how do we learn to win?
I can tell you that it is an individual process, that leads to a team aspect, and most importantly not defined by the amount of talent someone possesses. It is important to find at what point your players break, what makes them quit. This is an assessment that you can do by observance, and a scale that you better have for each and every player. This point is where they are located on the undefeated mindset, and is a more important attribute their athletic ability or strength. In order to have the huge victories, it starts with the daily ones. Know your players level of grit, and commit to expanding their individual levels, if you want them to reach program milestones. I am telling you there is not a “field of dreams” mantra to building championships. Champions in life can endure the momentary hardships, in order to reach their end goal. You can have a billion dollar facilities (which can offer you more opportunities to train), but without Grit, you have a large hollow hole in your ability to take your players to the next level.
What am I getting to? Coach the GRIT, more than you coach X’s and O’s. People know I mention that word quite often. The meaning of this word is vital to a teams success. In every area of a persons life, it is the amount of grit they possess that predicts their eventual level of success. To be undefeated you must possess an unwavering amount of it.
Grit: doing something and applying consistent effort despite difficulty, delay, failure, or opposition to achieve long-term goals.
- Are more consistent than others
- Don’t Miss Workouts
- Don’t Miss Assignments
- Always have their teammates back
- Are more consistent than their peers
- Short-term victories and their march towards winning are not voided by negative feedback or hectic schedules.
- They build up those around them over and over
- Produce more consistently than most
- They work on a schedule, not when they feel motivated
- They do the most difficult things first, and do not hide from responsibility
Take your roster, apply these points to each player using a 1-10 scale. This applies universally to the potential of your team becoming undefeated, and your potential to consistently become victorious. Now apply your results to your workouts, practices, and team oriented functions.
Now understand why GRIT is so important to your program. Consistent is daily. Daily is Life.
When we concentrate on Grit:
- We are building daily habits to stick to a schedule and defeat challenges and distractions over and over.
- We build a habitual way of focusing on what is important in being victorious regardless of the opponent or obstacles.
Everyday players are faced with: giving 100%, doing all the sets/reps, being on time or present to practice etc. We have drive home that the body cannot tell the mind what to do. They body will tell them that 9 reps instead of 10 is enough, and I do not need to go all out today. Earlier we talked about adults and resolutions, for some of us it would be easier to grab a cookie, than an healthy snack. We convince ourselves it is ok, because your body craves that cookie. How many reps have our players missed out on because of this? What have we done to train them different? As coaches we have to guide them through these mental obstacles to remain focused on their goals. Weak minded people are never consistent or committed to their own cause. So most certainly they cannot be to a team goal. We have to strengthen their mind by creating an assessment, and allowing for growth. We cannot wait until the contest to evaluate and expect to be winners. Winning the daily victory is riddled with choices. Decision making is the foundation of any athletic event. Our teams ability to do this at different levels of stress is our point of failure. By concentrating on it, we can elevate our level of success, because “situational football” is where the game is won if we elevate our habit of making tough decisions in high stressed environments. It comes down to our habits. Doing what we are supposed to do on a more consistent basis than your opponent, diminishes your probability of failure. This type of evaluation is daily and never ending. Ask yourself what your team can and cannot handle? Build the undefeated mindset.
In closing I would like to bring us to this. Being undefeated has nothing to do with winning every game or being perfect. Teams that have a number in the loss column can be undefeated. If they are constantly working on their individual GRIT inside the team. Being undefeated is the pure evidence of a group individually working on their level of grit to apply it as a unified team in a contest. So when you are looking at your schedule this fall, why not look at what you need to get there on game at a time, instead of as a possible sliding scale. You want to have the possibility of winning it all…well it starts daily.