"You aren’t a true success unless you are helping others be successful. Success is meant to be shared."
A research area of mine for the past couple of years has been focused on coach-athlete relationships. More specifically, coach-athlete relationships in non-traditional team sports (track & field, swimming, diving, golf, tennis, cross-country, and gymnastics). Although all individual members of the teams listed are indeed members of teams, their performances are not as dependent on their teammates as those of members of football, lacrosse, field hockey, hockey, and basketball teams. For example, once a thrower steps into the circle or on the javelin runway they are essentially competing on their own. A teammate will not be able to assist them if they make a mistake in the circle. Unlike a more traditional team sport where your teammates may pick up some of the slack at times, nobody is there to pick up your slack during a floor routine in gymnastics or while on the platform ready to complete a dive off of the 3m board.
Even though our teammates may not be able to physically assist us when throwing or diving or teeing off, they can certainly assist us psychologically. They can provide their support in a multitude of ways, such as; watching the competition, providing you with positive and constructive feedback, offering encouragement, and holding you accountable before and after the competition. Being the best at your individual sport really isn’t always about winning and beating the competition, but rather it is about striving to be the best you can be. It is also about bringing out the best in others, your teammates. As we continue to strive for greatness, we help inspire our teammates. It is much easier to complete a 6am workout with your teammates rather than it is alone. You can encourage your teammates when they feel down or disengaged during practice or during competition. The person you become while on your journey towards greatness will have a lasting impact on those around you.
By holding yourself accountable to your commitments, you hold your teammates accountable as well. You do not allow your peers to settle for anything less than their best. How do you do that yourself? You show up every day willing to do what it takes to get 1% better than the day before. Showing up every day is infectious. Your teammates will see that. Having a positive mindset when you don’t think you can complete one last rep or circuit or interval will inspire others. Lead by example. Be positive. Be supportive. Hold your teammates accountable. Ensure they are fulfilling their commitments to themselves and to those around them.
Leave a legacy. Your pursuit of excellence will encourage and empower others to strive for excellence as well. The path to greatness is bringing those around you up, not to bring them down. How do you want your teammates to remember you after graduation? What would you want them to say about you at your 80th birthday celebration?
Dr. Charles Infurna
Charles Infurna, Ed.D., is the owner and lead coach of Forza Athletics Track Club. Dr. Infurna has coached National Record Holders, National Champions, All-Americans, and Conference Champions at the Post-Collegiate, Collegiate, and High School level.