The Winning Formula for Your Athlete's Success

My team played our first tournament of the year last weekend. We held a practice Friday night to get some final swings in the cage and some infield practice. We looked great!

Unfortunately we didn't play nearly as well as I had hoped the first day of the tournament. The confidence and precision that was so evident in the field and in the cage a  mere 18 hours before vanished once my girls crossed the white lines. I turned to my assistant coach and wondered what happened between Friday night and Saturday morning?

I came to the conclusion that the challenges many of the girls faced were, predictably, between their ears. I knew they could make the plays. I knew they could crush the ball...they just didn't.

For any young athlete the pathway to consistent success can be a difficult one for sure. In mastering their sport there are sure to be plenty of bumps along the way. But, I believe, there is a formula, a secret path, to insure that your athlete will achieve consistent success on the field.

So here it is: (S = P +  E + A + F + A - J). If your athlete can successfully understand, then implement this formula her on the field success will have no boundaries!

high school baseball game

Preparation + Effort + Attitude + Focus + Adjustments - Judgment = Success

Preparation - John Wooden said, "Failing to prepare is preparing to fail." Preparation is an ongoing process, both physical and mental, that takes time. How much time does your athlete put into his or her preparation? Success is the result of massive preparation.

Effort - Like preparation effort is a choice. If your athlete is adequately prepared his or her self-confidence level should allow them to exert maximize effort. The first thing a coach or scout sees when evaluating a player is effort. The question they needs to always ask themselves is "can I do more?"

Attitude - Exceptional preparation and effort create a dynamic attitude that can propel your athlete through adversity and onto consistent peak performance. A great attitude is also contagious and can turn a good team into a great team!

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Focus - With preparation, effort and attitude comes the desire for success. A willingness to cultivate laser focus and concentrate on the task at hand is essential to the achievement of sustainable success. Mental focus is also a choice that ultimately separates the good plays from the poor ones and the good players from the great players.

Adjustments - The game requires that every player make adjustments in order to be successful. No matter your athlete's sport or position making the necessary adjustments is a conscious choice that requires attention to details. "ABL" - always be learning; it makes the adjustments that much easier to identify and make.

Judgment - This is the one component that needs to be subtracted from your athlete's formula for success.  Excessive self-judgment can erase much of the benefits created by the other components found in the success formula. Expecting perfection or not seeing mistakes as a learning opportunity can spiral your athlete's game downward in a hurry. In the absence of judgment self-confidence soars and so too will his or her performance.

Although the single biggest factor towards success is self-confidence I did not include it in the secret formula for success because I believe that self-confidence is a by product of exceptional preparation, superior effort, a great attitude, laser focus and making adjustments. A self-confident athlete is a relaxed athlete; able to perform at a peak level with little anxiety or fear.

This formula may look simple but it will require a lot of work for every element of the formula to become habit for your athlete. But the rewards will be well worth the effort I can assure you. If your athlete can truly embrace this formula he or she will remain head and shoulders above the competition and soar to the top of the recruiting list (provided they also master the physical side of their game).

Check out John Kelly's new ebook, Think It and Hit It: 12 Critical Mental Strategies to Improve Hitting. Just $3.97!

**Be sure to subscribe to our free weekly Winner's Edge Kid Tips (in the right column on this page), where you'll get fresh mental skills insights, strategies and tips on how your athlete can skyrocket game day performance.

Leadership Skills to Move Your Athlete to the Top

I had the opportunity recently to attend a seminar given by leadership guru John C. Maxwell. Maxwell has written dozens of best selling books on the subject of leadership, so do take the time to pick up his work and read this article carefully!

Make no mistake, leadership skills are vital for your athlete to cultivate and possess if they have a goal of playing at the next level. Travel, high school and college coaches alike always put athletes with strong leadership skills at the top of their list. Like everything else...leadership is a choice your athlete can and should make at whatever level he or she is capable of.

Here are 8 leadership tips to move your athlete to the top:

1. Leaders expect more from themselves and others. They never limit themselves or allow others to limit their success, their enthusiasm, their effort or attitude. They are always inspired to grow as people and athletes and expect the same from teammates. Leaders see more for their team and teammates and are relentless in their pursuit of success. As a  personal friend told me about his former teammate Michael Jordan, Jordan was always working amazingly hard to improve his teammates in every area of their game, during practice and games.

2. Leaders take the time to build relationships. They converse with teammates and coaches alike to build report and respect. Leaders are interested in their teammates thoughts, feelings and motivations. They understand the value of team chemistry and are the driving force to that end on their team. Leaders are charismatic individuals others take notice of.

3. Leaders are big picture thinkers. They recognize the game is a process that takes time to master. Leaders help their teammates to understand this truth and thus teammates look to the leader for support and direction in the most difficult game situations. Leaders play the game one play at a time, yet know exactly when to lead.

Drew Brees

4. Leaders are always observing. They are, not only, watching the game for ways to personally get better...but they are constantly aware of their teammates moods and performances, looking for opportunities to help their teammates and ultimately their team to succeed. Leaders listen and learn...always!

5. Leaders lead by example. They recognize that their teammates and coaches (and scouts) are watching their every move and, as such, they walk the talk. They have a stellar work ethic, they honor the game, they are aware of their body language and verbal language to keep their teammates on purpose. They are a solid and dependable role model for their team.

6. Leaders are highly respected. They earn this respect because they put into practice all the tips listed here. Respect allows leaders to influence their teammates. Their personal attitude and expectations for the team's attitude are embraced by teammates. In this way leaders can motivate their teammates to be better.

7. Leaders create buy in from teammates and coaches. They can effectuate both subtle and dramatic changes on their team because those around them buy in to them as a leader first. Once their teammates and coaches buy into their leadership stature their vision (or recommendations) for the team are easily followed. For example if a leader sees certain players or the team's effort or energy is down he or she can set the tone for improvement in these areas easily because their teammates respect them and what they say.

8. Leaders find a way to win. They have the power to lead their team to victory regardless of the circumstances or hurdles encountered along the way. Think Michael Jordan; think Joe Montana; think Drew Brees. Their teammates are inspired and motivated by their leadership skills and give more and do more than they thought they could do. Leaders raise the collective level of performance by their team by design.

If you or your athlete have not discussed their leadership role on his or her team you should. Leaders are highly coveted by top coaches at every level.

Remember, being a leader does not mean an athlete must be the best player or have the best statistics. Sports are filled with some very unlikely leaders, but leaders who can get the most from their teammates while playing a vital role in their team's success. Leaders also do not need to be loud. Some of the world's greatest leaders over time have been extremely quiet (think The Dali Lama, Phil Jackson, Tony LaRussa, Derek Jeter).

Leaders are not born, they are made through a combination of hard work (mastering both physical and mental skills) and a recognition of the opportunity leadership may provide for them and their team.

For more on leadership do read the many excellent books written by John Maxwell.