Leadership is a quality that is often easy to recognize, but harder to define. What are some characteristics that make you a great leader?
This is where it all starts. You must be one of the hardest workers on your team. This is the best and quickest way to enhance your credibility with your teammates and coaches. If you don’t work hard no one is following you anywhere!
You truly must not care who scores, who plays the most minutes, or who gets the credit. You must be willing to sacrifice for the good of your team. Not many players can honestly say, “The team comes first.”
Your enthusiasm and passion for the game should be evident to anyone who watches you practice or play a game. Your energy level should boost your teammates’ performance. Any team environment you are in is better because of the spirit you bring to it.
Great leaders are willing to take risks. Increased risk means more chances for mistakes. Growth and improvement come from making mistakes, admitting the mistake, and then learning from the mistake. To become a great leader you must apply this thought process on the court and in the locker room.
Learn to be resilient and bounce back quickly after mistakes. Don’t turn one mistake into two by sulking or pouting. Be the tough player that your teammates look to in the face of adversity. When things go bad they look to you because you are able to handle the pressure. Leaders want the ball in their hands when the game is on the line. Don’t be afraid to fail in clutch situations, instead look at clutch situations as an opportunity you have been given to show how your preparation and hard work has paid off. If you do fail, be prepared to accept the responsibility and look forward to being successful next time.
Who are you when no one is watching? Are you the same player, do you give the same effort as when the coach has his eye on you? Great leaders don’t allow any slippage regardless of whether a coach is watching or not.
Leadership is all about relationships. You can’t lead anyone if you don’t have a relationship first. Get to know everyone on your team. You may spend more time with your best friends or players in the same grade as you, but make a strong effort to get to know each and every member of your team. A quick conversation before or after practice can go a long way towards strengthening the bonds between you and your teammates that will pay off as the season unfolds.
Do you always have your hand out looking for someone to give you more? Or are you the player looking for ways to give more to your team?
Always look for teammates who are doing the right thing to help your team. Praise a teammate for their hard work in a drill, for making a great pass, for being resilient when mistakes occur, or getting an A on a test. We all do better when our tanks are filled with specific and truthful praise. Recognize the actions and attitudes you want to see repeated.
Every day you make choices. Do yours lead to success or failure? Do you drink a Coke or water? Do you study for a test or play video games? Do shoot free throws before practice or work on your half-court shots? Are you polite or do you treat others disrespectfully? Each individual action may not seem significant, but collectively your choices will add up to success or add up to failure.
Be the player that everyone hates to go against in practice. Your teammates should know you are coming at them every day. Encourage them to do the same for you and for each other. Good leaders consistently inspire others to reach a level that they didn’t think was possible.
Your teammates have issues just like you: school, romance, family, a shooting slump, etc. Good leaders are always watching for teammates they can offer to support. If you’ve built a relationship, they’ll appreciate when you reach out to them when they are struggling.
Anybody can complain. Players do it all the time. They complain about the coach and the bad decisions he makes. They complain about teammates who play ahead of them or make a crucial mistake. They complain about practice. Be a leader who looks for solutions to these problems instead of fueling the fire by joining in with the complainers.
Find out what your coach needs from you and then try your best to deliver. What are the coach’s objectives for the day’s practice? How can you help achieve those objectives?
The hard work that is required of you and your teammates on a daily basis is an investment that will pay off over the course of the season. That may be tough for everyone to see during a particularly tough practice or during a losing streak, but leaders help the team keep their eyes on the prize.
Everywhere you go people are making judgements about you, your team, your family, your school, and your community based on your actions and appearance. Go the extra mile to practice good sportsmanship, be polite, treat everyone with respect, take care of your facilities, and demonstrate what kind of person you are. Leaders make those around them proud!
Teams with great leadership are often the most successful. Are you willing to do what it takes to become a leader on your team?