Height, weight, speed, strength, and technical skills are highly sought-after physical elements as a coach looks for the ideal athlete for each position on the football team. Physical talent, however, doesn’t always translate to success on the field.
The difference between being a mediocre athlete and being an exceptional one is the behavior, character, work ethic, and attitude of that player. These intangibles are often difficult to measure, but almost every coach out there will tell you that they are worth their weight in gold. Dick DeHaven, former Dallas Cowboy, and head coach for the Millikan High School Rams for over 15 years says, “I’d take a player with work ethic, heart, and character over one who had the natural ability but a bad attitude any day.” Maybe that’s a clue to why his teams won two CIF Championships. Read through the seven ‘intangibles’ below and ask yourself, “How can I be my best in that area?” Truth be told, it’s just a choice. You can live your life by choice, or by chance. The decision is yours.
EFFORT: Do you show up for practice early, prepared, and ready to work? Do you spend extra hours in the weight room and studying the game plan and film? It doesn’t take physical talent to go all-out every play. Are you fighting for every inch, still pursuing the football long after the pass is thrown, staying with your block even though the play is on the other side of the field? Do you give it all you’ve got at all times no matter what? If you do, this is outstanding effort.
LEADERSHIP: You may be the type of leader that can rally the troops and be loud and vocal about the challenge ahead. Every team needs someone who can yell in an attempt to motivate the team. Sometimes, however, it’s the leader who is not vocal, but sets the example of who is the most meaningful and productive. Leadership means responsibility on and off the field, being reliable, and being committed to excellence. A leader empowers others to do their best.
CHARACTER: What you do when no one is looking. That’s character. Are you true to your word? Are you honest, trustworthy, respectful, and responsible? Your actions off the field will impact your future as much as your actions on the field. Always THINK before you ACT and consider the consequences of your decisions.
RESPECT: Respect is earned, not given. In order to gain respect, you have to give it. You show respect to your coaches by listening intently and giving it everything you’ve got at all times. Be good at what you do, treat others well, be open to criticism, don’t bad mouth others, stand up for what you believe in. Always remember that actions speak louder than words.
HUMILITY: Team glory brings about individual recognition. Coaches, however, don’t like dealing with self-centered individuals. A true “team player” uses the word “we” a lot more than “I.” Giving credit to others is a quality that is very appealing.
ATTITUDE: It’s easy to have a great attitude when your winning. But, when things aren’t going well on the field, negative thoughts have a tendency to enter into your mind. A bad attitude effects everyone on the team. Don’t ever let your emotions get the best of you. Stay calm and collected. Don’t focus on what’s wrong. Convert negative thoughts into positive ones. Focus on catching the pass, converting on third down, making the touchdown. You choose your attitude.
INTELLIGENCE: Not everyone will be a 4.0 student, but every player can become a student of the game. The more you know the game, the better decisions you’ll make on the field.