Two things an athlete can always give, regardless the circumstances; effort and focus. I tell my Titans that it doesn’t matter whether the game is 1 to nothing or 100 to nothing, you can still give effort and focus. “Winners never quit and quitters never win” (Vince Lombardi). It’s a great life lesson that will serve my athletes well.
Importantly, I expect the same in practice. I expect effort and focus. Furthermore, I expect effort and focus in between practices — when I don’t see my athletes — when the greatest strides are made in terms of proper mechanics. Should I expect less? If so, it’s time to hang it up as an instructor and coach.
I also preach that it’s important to instill a love and passion for the game. This is true but love and passion start with effort and focus. In other words, it’s my demands of effort and focus and my expectations of hard work and commitment that lead to a love and passion, not the other way around. Come spring time, just watch a Titan square up and fastball and drive it to the fence, or witness a Titan make an amazing defensive play or observe a Titan pitcher strike out a batter with the winning run on third base and you will also see a fire ignited.
Effort and focus. Love and passion. Give me effort and focus and we’ll have the best time ever on this wonderful journey!