A PLAYBOOK FOR LUTHERAN SOUTH ACADEMY ATHLETICS
A NEW WAY TO PLAY
Everything we see about sports in our culture is pretty much dictated by one perspective, one value system. It’s dominated by self-promotion, a “You’re either #1 or you’re no one” philosophy that really stems from a world fixated on sports idolatry. The Bible tells us there are two kingdoms – the kingdom of Christ and the kingdom of this world. 2 Corinthians 5:17 says, “…if anyone be in Christ, they are a new creation: old things are passed away; all things become new.” The world’s way of doing things is all around us but let’s look at a new way to be a competitor – a better way.
The world tells us the goal is To Win! – on the scoreboard. The big problem with this is that it is entirely compared to our opponent. Galatians 6:4 tells us, “Each one should test their own actions. Then they can take pride in themselves alone, without comparing to someone else.” When our focus is on comparing ourselves to our opponent, it’s our opponent who takes control over whether or not we are successful.
We can’t control the quality of our opponent on any given night. But we can always control the quality of our effort. For us, winning is not the only goal. Winning is the byproduct of us committing to giving our Best Effort towards being our Best Self each and every day.
While most teams and players set their goal to win (on the scoreboard), we understand that winning is a byproduct. Winning happens when you’ve done a lot of other things first.
Our goal is the TOTAL RELEASE of all that we are toward becoming all that we are capable of. Colossians 3:23 says, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord…” The word “WHATEVER” includes everything you do. In athletics that includes practicing and playing games but it also includes taking proper care of your body, eating and sleeping right, weight training, conditioning, etc. You can’t “work at it with all your heart” without being mindful of everything that goes into it. “ALL YOUR HEART” means going ALL IN.
For most people, the biggest opponent we have is fear. Fear of not winning, fear of not doing well, fear of making a mistake, fear of being embarrassed in front of everybody, even fear of doing great and then having people expect that from you next time. But, competing with TOTAL RELEASE is competing with NO FEAR. 2 Timothy 1:7 says, “For God did not give us a spirit of timidity but one of power, love, and self-discipline.” As you commit to giving your BEST EFFORT to be your BEST SELF each and every day, our challenge for you is to not hold back out of fear but GIVE IT YOUR BEST SHOT
The challenge for us as coaches is to help each and every athlete accomplish this. But, how is it done? The answer is simple but runs contrary to how our culture views sports. 1 John 4:18 says, “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear…” The very best way to defeat fear in athletes is through love. Not through incentive, and not through fear motivation. These things may “work” but the only way to truly inspire our athletes to blow the lid off their “potential” is by loving them as Christ has loved us. In addition, it is through love that we find the joy in the experience. Sometimes this requires what we call “tough love,” but even then, our actions are in fact motivated by love and not frustration or retaliation.
“And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.” – 1st Corinthians 13:13
People often think the world’s approach is the only way to compete. They think that if your goal isn’t to “win” then you aren’t being a competitor. But we know that a true competitor is not distracted by the things they can’t control. Therefore, THE PIONEER WAY is actually what allows us to become true competitors.
The world’s approach actually turns control of our success over to others. This sabotages our athletic performance. By staying committed to putting our BEST EFFORT towards being our BEST SELF, we remain focused on the only thing we can control - ourself.
Winning is not the only goal. Winning is the byproduct of us committing to giving our BEST EFFORT towards being our BEST SELF each and every day.
It’s Not About Winning, It’s About
THE DOUBLE WIN
Momentum is a powerful force that can impact each of our own performance as well as that of each and every one of our teammate’s. Momentum is influenced by various factors, and one of the big ones is utilizing the POWER OF THE PUT-UP GAME. We all start to respond to challenges when we start pushing the positive buttons in ourselves and in others. THE REAL POWER OF ANY TEAM IS IN THE PUTTING UP OF EACH OTHER – the genuine belief that we are going to bring out the best in each other.
So much of athletics in today’s culture is self-centered. “What’s in it for me?”, “What do I get out if it?” These are the values we see from ESPN all the way down to Little League. But, when we break out of this limiting mentality we begin to experience the joy offered by the competitive experience. There is a significant level of excitement and optimism that exists when the questions become, “What can I bring to the team?”, “What do I have to offer?”, and “How can I help make the team better?” As we continue to grow as a competitor, we can even ask these questions on a personal level, “How can I help make you better?”
ENCOURAGEMENT, APPRECIATION, COMPLIMENTS & PRAISE – the pay value is we both play better, and the experience becomes a lot more fun. By lighting each other’s candles, we all shine brighter.
When a teammate messes up, getting on them or criticizing them is of no value. They weren’t trying to mess up. The only way to confront a teammate in this situation is to go out of our way to ENCOURAGE them. When a teammate makes a play or has a great game, we must also go out of our way to AFFIRM them. Therefore, the only way to address a teammate as a true competitor is either to AFFIRM or ENCOURAGE.
The way we speak to and treat each other is a direct reflection of the way we feel about ourselves. When we put others down, disrespect them or ignore them, it is really a reflection of how poorly we feel about ourselves and how self-absorbed we are. We all see this as athletes will sometimes treat teammates in this manner. However, it is even more common and culturally acceptable to see athletes treat opponents and referees in this manner because the world’s approach tells us that these are the “enemies.” But a true competitor recognizes, respects, and is excited by the fact that it is our opponent who is pushing us to be the best we are capable of being.
When we put-up and encourage others, it reflects the positive confidence we have in ourselves. As we practice and get better at The Put-Up Game, we continue to feel better about ourselves and gain TRUE CONFIDENCE. This inspires us to perform at a higher level more often.
This is THE PARADOX OF THE DOUBLE WIN, we perform better when we encourage and challenge others to be the best they are capable of being.
SOUTH PRIDE ATTITUDE GAMES
THE KEY TO MENTAL TOUGHNESS & COMPETITIVE ADVANTAGE
When we think of a coin we generally think of it having two sides. A football game begins by flipping a coin and one team choosing one side or the other. But, if you look closer, you’ll see the side we tend to overlook – The Edge. Similarly, in sports today most people have two views about how you play.
There’s the BE THE BEST people. They follow the world’s approach and their entire focus is on being the best on the scoreboard, in the standings, in the state, etc. It’s a “You’re either #1 or you’re no one” attitude. Those people might be first sometimes, but they too often find out that by their own definition, they are eventually losers most of the time. Only one team in the state is eventually the champion. By this definition, everyone else is a loser. It’s a self-defeating approach.
Then there’s the other side of the coin, those people who say just DO YOUR BEST. We see this with a culture where everyone gets a trophy, or the score is not even kept. The problem with this side of the coin is that sometimes you give it everything you have but you just don’t do your best. You just don’t have a great game. You fumble, you don’t shoot the ball well – the effort was there but you really didn’t do your best.
But, like the coin, the third side of competition is often overlooked – THE EDGE. It’s the side that gives us the Competitive Edge to go out and continue to improve regardless of whether we won or lost the last game. The Edge is YOUR BEST SHOT. When you truly give it your Best Shot (“…with all your heart, as working for the Lord…” – Colossians 3:23), you can accept the result (which sometimes might not be your best) because you know that this commitment is what is going to continue to push you to your potential and to excellence.
THE EDGE: When you give it YOUR BEST SHOT every day, you allow yourself to DO YOUR BEST more often, which gives you the opportunity to BE THE BEST more of the time.
The true joy of the competitive experience comes to us when we learn to enjoy the energy, excitement and enthusiasm of the moment.
We are a Nike school and Nike is famous for the phrase “Just Do It!” In fact, Nike has a banner in our gym that says, “Pioneers Just Do It!” If you look at this phrase through the world’s approach you may emphasize the “IT.” The “IT” is often times whatever lies at the end of the road – the destination (the big win, the district championship, state championship, college scholarship, etc.). The problem is that people rarely seem to find “IT” or be happy with “IT.” If they do win “IT” the satisfaction is gone pretty quickly.
The key to The Pioneer Way is actually in the word “DO.” “DO” is not about reaching a destination, it’s an action – IT’S A LIFESTYLE. It is in the “DOING” that we experience the excitement of getting a little bit better each day. “DO” is about committing to each and every day to GIVING IT YOUR BEST SHOT towards being better than the day before. “DO” is about building those around us up in an effort to achieve THE DOUBLE WIN – performing to our own personal potential which makes it possible for us to win on the scoreboard more consistently.
THE PIONEER WAY IS NOT SOMETHING YOU DO,
IT’S SOMEONE YOU BECOME.