Getting a competitive mental edge on the opponent has always been the goal of successful coaches. Success in any football game depends on the physical abilities and mental attitudes of the players involved. A coach has the ability to influence the mental attitude of his team. Doing so in a positive way can be the key to victory.
Achieving that goal is difficult, however, because it is impossible to have complete control of your own mental and emotional makeup, let alone that of a team made up of many individuals.
Coaches use various methods to motivate a team and achieve the proper mental edge. Each successful coach has his own method of motivating his team. The ideas presented in this chapter are just one coach’s way of attempting to gain that elusive mental edge. Other approaches may be equally successful. The ideas presented here concern not only how to motivate your team but also how to motivate yourself. You must do both to be successful.
Developing a winning mental edge is not a pep talk, it is not gimmickry, it is not a one-week effort—it is an all-consuming mission. The proper mental edge involves developing pride, poise, and a team attitude in yourself, your coaches, your players, and your support people. It all starts with the head coach, and it involves your philosophy, leadership qualities, understanding of the concept of personal responsibility, and use of proper organizational guidelines.
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Having a sound philosophy is key to developing the mental edge and becoming a successful coach. Every coach has a philosophy, whether he knows it or not. This philosophy should be built around leadership, motivation, flexibility, goal setting, visualization, and personal responsibility.
Let us first look at forming a philosophy. The number-one principle is to be your own person. Individuals often look at successful people and try to copy them. Doing this is a mistake. You should study their good traits but then work the traits that you can use into your personal style. An individual builds his philosophy by trial and error. Keep the good and drop the bad.
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