Building the Perfect Player
By Dan Bauer
In the 1985 film Weird Science, two nerdy teenage boys build the perfect woman. The main characters, Gary and Wyatt, sit in their dimly lit room with braziers tied to their heads and feed vital information into their computer that happens to be wired to a Barbie doll. They succeed and Kelly LeBrock emerges from a haze filled closet. It didn’t win any Academy Awards, but did score a 6.6 rating on IMBd.com.
As coaches we partake in a similar exercise as we strive to create the perfect player. We are constantly striving to find new training methods, drills and motivation to improve our athletes. Which leads me to the question that I often ask when speaking at coaching clinics: “If we could build the perfect player, what would they look like? What are the five or six most important traits they should possess?”
If we could build the perfect player, what would they look like? What are the five or six most important traits they should possess?Click to tweet
Coaches willingly jump into the trap I have set with great answers like work ethic, coachability, competitive drive, positive attitude, heart, unselfishness, leadership and other high character traits. For every ten answers like these I will get one answer addressing the fictional player’s physical skills. It seems that if the consensus is that 90% of the most important characteristics of a great player fall into what we would define as character traits. So why do we spend 90% of our time coaching their physical skills?
That is the million dollar question.
The answer can be found in the science behind the 3DI framework of coaching where building the perfect player starts with building the perfect coach. This is where worthwhile science has studied and unlocked the keys to the heart and soul of our athletes. Those coaches looking to gain that edge in building player relationships and improving team unity are taking the journey through the 3D blueprint. They are moving past the 1st Dimension of physical skills and exploring the cerebral 2nd and 3rd Dimensions of the 3D framework. It involves tearing down the traditional walls of intimidation and building a relationship of mutual respect with our players.
Obviously I am not advocating that we stop practicing the physical skills to play the game, but I am asking that you evaluate how you are building the character in your athletes. The reasons are fairly clear as we have all had that ultra-skilled athlete that is either selfish or lazy or undisciplined. Or perhaps their sport IQ is so low that they struggle with even the simplest decisions in a contest. Finding a place for these athletes to play can be a nightmare. They can suck the life out of a team and drain a coach’s patience.
Agreeing that skills are important, let’s consider the opposite scenario. You have a moderately skilled player that has great work ethic, unselfish, disciplined and is very coachable. How hard is it to find a place for this kid to play? Not very hard. In fact we often consider these blue collar grinders as the heart and soul of our teams. They lead by example, they are great teammates, they accept and excel at their role no matter what it is and they always put the team first. If they play two minutes or the entire game you get the same attitude and effort. Those are the type of behind the scenes players that are the core of every successful team. They understand that being on a team is about something bigger than their own personal agendas.
The proof is consistently revealed in the post-season comments of championship teams. They instinctively spread credit throughout their team and always talk about the “family” atmosphere that enabled them to come together and focus on their goals. They bang the drum of their role players as strongly as they do their star players. They seldom talk about their talent level being superior, but always acclaim their unbreakable team unity. And when we look back at the projected pre-season favorites they are rarely the ones holding the trophy.
When character building is the foundation of our coaching philosophy we build not only successful players, but resilient, hardworking and optimistic people that will use those traits the rest of their life.Click to tweet
When character building is the foundation of our coaching philosophy we build not only successful players, but resilient, hardworking and optimistic people that will use those traits the rest of their life. Athletics must be the training ground for life; it is the charcoal that leads to the diamonds of the future. When we focus on the process, which at times can be difficult and sometimes painful, we learn the valuable life lessons. That process must go deeper than the traditional emphasis on physical skills and challenges. We must tap into the hearts and souls of our players.
Despite all of our technological advances since 1985, we still don’t have a computer program to magically build the perfect player. What we do have is a framework, built by 3D Institute that gives you the resources and road map to be a transformational coach who can in turn build character driven athletes.
When our athletes believe in our message and buy into our purpose, they take ownership. It becomes something bigger than just them and they will commit their heart and soul to the cause. That is a formula for success in athletics and in life.
When our athletes believe in our message and buy into our purpose, they take ownership. It becomes something bigger than just them and they will commit their heart and soul to the cause.Click to tweet
No weird science in that equation.
If you have never taken the 3D journey, you can sample the 3D Coaching training for free at www.becomea3dcoach.com.
Dan Bauer is a free-lance writer, retired teacher & hockey coach in Wausau, WI. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org