An Accountable Team Wins to Their Potential 

Football isn’t like all of the other sports. It requires relentless orchestrated physical contact. Players must be smart, strong, fast, quick, relentless, powerful, quick thinking, cooperative, responsible, disciplined, tough, etc. Those traits have to be constantly developed, and developed to a very high level, in order to succeed. In football there are endless things to be held accountable for, but these are also endless things to take pride in. Successful football is accountability dependent and pride producing. While football is the example here, pursuing any great team endeavor is much the same.

One must also understand that successful football requires a whole bunch of players who are willing to be held accountable and take pride in their efforts and performance.

When things are not being done as instructed, on or off the field, then changes in individual behavior need to be made. When those changes are not executed, confrontation must occur. Otherwise, the unsuccessful behavior will continue. 

In a successful football program players are perpetually on guard for mediocrity and complacency. A winning team has a roster full of players who can recognize and confront their average human behaviors before they can blossom and spread. Because humans naturally seek ease, convenience and comfort, intervention is required when mediocrity and complacency inevitably become apparent in any team related endeavor. 

That intervention is more or less a confrontation. It can take many forms. It can be a look, a gesture, a friendly reminder, or a sternly delivered comment when required. As a rule, it is best to enter the confrontation at the lowest level necessary to change the negative or unproductive behavior. Teammates have to speak up and keep confronting until the behavior is changed. A lack of confrontation, in one form or the other, is at the very least a tacit acceptance of a lower standard. 

The reality of successfully competing is that confrontation is sometimes needed to create growth. Players on winning teams experience great growth because through these confrontations they see that they can do better, change their behavior, and ultimately improve how they go about their lives. Accountability keeps players constantly working to their potential. If they can be assured that one of their teammates is going to call them out when they are giving less than their best, they are far more likely to consistently give their best.

Sometimes drastic changes occur as those mired in mediocrity suddenly find themselves surrounded by those who will confront them for giving less then their best. For the first time this player will start making the sacrifices necessary to progress on a path of rapid achievement. 

Once such players recognize all that they are now achieving, they come to appreciate all those confrontations they initially despised. A powerful force is created once everyone on the team is on the same page regarding the minimal levels of acceptable behavior; expect to be called out if you are not doing what is expected.

There is no fear of under performing if teammates don’t have the intellect to recognize the fruits of confrontation. Accountability creates a fear of failure and therefore avoidance of failure as the player works hard to increase his level of performance. 

If someone doesn’t define failure and hold themselves and others accountable, then that individual will never develop the safety net of intrinsic pride which establishes a minimal acceptable level for self achievement. In short, that someone never learns to do better and accept personal responsibility for his own failure.

Accountability, and the pride it leads to, requires courage; the courage of players to to hold themselves to a very high standard. They must speak up when they see someone else not doing the same. If players lack the courage, the will, and the intellect to understand accountability, then there can’t be accountability. The result is any hope for a consistently high level of performance is crushed.

The norm in some organizations is that it’s members will hold each other accountable. This leads to consistent success.

The norm in other organizations is that it’s members will not be held accountable. Members are only solely responsible for themselves and lack the benefit of having teammates who call them out when they give into human nature and fall short of their best effort. This leads to consistent failure.

There is of course a third norm. One where the level of accountability fluctuates year to year, instance to instance. This leads to inconsistent achievement.

What does all of this mean?

Some of players skip parts of workouts or at times fail to work to their physical and mental potential. Will enough players on the team have the courage, the will, and the intellect to call out their teammates and hold them accountable? Will enough of players be willing to be held accountable by their teammates to start doing things the right way? Will players quit or make excuses rather than face being held accountable for doing what needs to be done, the way it needs to be done, when it needs to be done (completing workouts, watching extra practice and game film, practicing harder when asked to, showing up for games ready to play, fighting through pain and disappointment when things get tough etc.) ?

I believe most team leaders have it in them to both speak up when someone needs to be held accountable, and to listen when someone holds them accountable. They have the courage, the will, and the intellect. I just don’t know if they will consistently act, or will too often look the other way when it’s time for someone to be held accountable.

At some point, a coach is always asked how his or her team is going to be next year.
A great many factors go into whether a team will have a winning or losing season. 

Talent is a factor of course, but talent in most programs is always pretty much the same. Likewise most teams will always face some opponents that have more talent. Administrative support is important, but that is usually consistent; as is the coaching.

Teams will win if the players have some fear that their complacency or divergence from the winning standards will be noticed by their peers. They will win if they have some pride and realize losing is unacceptable. They will win if they have the courage, will and intellect to call each other out and listen when called out. They will win if enough of their teammates allow themselves to be held accountable so they can get the work done and develop some pride.

They will lose more than they should if the staff solely has to hold players accountable for doing every little thing (showing up to lifting, getting all their sets in, squatting to the appropriate depth, stretching with effort, completing the paperwork, representing the team, bringing out the equipment, cleaning up the field etc.).

It is important that players better understand why different programs with the same talent level consistently win, while others with similar talent consistently lose, and still others are forever vascillating between the two. I write this so teams that are for real when it comes to their desire to win can accept that in order to be able to win, players will be accountable for having the character and mental toughness to consistently get the work done this off-season, in practices, and during games.

In order to do that, a whole bunch of them need to have the courage, the will and the intellect to buy in. If they do, then not only will they succeed to their potential, but they will learn the character and mental toughness skills necessary to succeed in any competitive team endeavor th rest of their lives.    @CoachBillMoore


About coachbillmoore

Educator/Author/Speaker/HS & NCAA Coach Character Coach Read Coach Moore’s book “On Character and Mental Toughness” Paperback available at Barnes & Noble or Amazon. "The measure of your character and mental toughness is the space between what you are doing and what you could be doing." -Coach Bill Moore
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