Last weekend was great for football in Rock Hill – Northwestern’s dominating performance, South Pointe’s shutout victory, and the Gray-Y all-stars winning the youth football title. Three state championships is more than most cities will ever win. It was a fantastic way to end a special year.
The championships did not just magically appear. Each team earned its championship, it wasculminated everything that the players, coaches, and parents worked towards all year.
Every season has highs and lows, even if the team is fortunate enough to go undefeated. Obviously, championship teams have a lot of highs during the season. But while winning solves a lot of problems, it does not make everything fun. Hoisting a trophy in December makes one forget the lows that had to be overcome.
Hoisting a trophy in December can also make you forget how hard the journey was to the top – the hard summer workouts in the heat and humidity, injuries, missed calls, extra weight lifting, and that one last sprint at the end of a hard practice.
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My hope is that everyone associated with Northwestern, South Pointe, and Gray-Y all-stars remember the lows, keeping each hard summer workout and dropped ball in the front of their minds.
The intention is not to belittle their accomplishment. . Instead, I want to make sure that the teams repeat their successes.
It is much harder to stay at the top than make it to the top. Two things usually converge against the defending champion, giving the advantage to the underdog. It is a lesson anyone can learn from.
Defending champions become a target
Getting to the top is easier than staying at the top because champions become the standard all others strive to emulate. It can put pressure on a team. Expectations are made for the defending champion; it is no longer enough to just have a winning season or to make the playoffs. Defending champion becomes a big target that everyone else wants to hit.
To overcome this a defending champion must make realistic goals and stick to them. Teams should set an outcome goal (repeating as state champions), followed by progress goals, focusing on one game at a time and supported by process goals (not throwing interceptions). This will help a team not succumb to the pressure as each player is working towards the outcome goal by focusing on the smaller, more manageable progress and process goals.
Defending champions lose motivation
At the same time the defending champions have a target on their back, it becomes easy for them to lose motivation. It is not that the players do not want to repeat as state champions, rather the players do not work with the same passion that they did before winning. This usually happens because players forget how much work it took to win the championship. It can be overcome through reflection and constructive goal setting. In addition, coaches and parents should remind the athletes of all the hard work it took to get to the top.
For Northwestern, South Pointe, and the Gray-Y All-Stars, first – celebrate, you deserve it and reflect on all your hard work. Remember what it took to win, especially those things that did not go quite right. Use those experiences to motovitate you to come back and do it all again next year.
Do you have questions?
Do you have a question about how to improve your athletic performance? Dr. David Schary invites questions or comments from any athlete, coach, or parent. Email any question or comment to firstname.lastname@example.org.