Great Question about Great Players

I awoke this morning to an email asking me about my favorite and least favorite players I have ever coached.  The questioner was not asking for names as these would mean little to him.  Rather he was inquiring about characteristics or traits that made players stand out.

Two players immediately came to mind; Terry and Steve.  Both of these players were gifted athletes and looked upon as the best on their respective teams. Terry's teams had great success while Steve's teams were successful.  There is a difference and it was found in what set the two players apart from one another.

It's easy to lead when all is going well.

It's easy to be out in front when the skies are clear.

It's easy to be first in line when there are no obstacles to overcome.

When Terry arrived at the field the atmosphere changed. It became charged with energy and expectations. You knew Terry was bringing his "A" game and quite honestly, no one wanted to let Terry down. His energy, enthusiasm and determination to succeed were unmatched. 

As Terry went, so went the team.

Terry's teams were ultra successful in large part because Terry would have it no other way.  He was confident in his ability and that somehow made those around him confident in their own (supporting?) abilities.  He brought out the best in those around him because he always gave his best. There was never a moment too big for Terry.

Steve was similarly the undisputed leader of his team. It can also be said that as Steve went, so too did his team go.  The difference was Steve often shrunk in the big moments.  I wouldn't say he froze up or shied away from big moments, but Steve also did not elevate his game. Steve was not capable of putting a team on his back and elevating everyone's game around him. So when Steve did not rise to the occasion, neither did his teams.

Interestingly enough, Terry was a quiet guy. He didn't talk much at all. He didn't have to. A true leader by example.  Steve on the other hand was a talker, kind of a rah rah guy. As I reminisce about these two this morning I find myself considering this.  Terry said little and so had little to back up or prove.  Steve talked a good game but faltered in the big moments. Steve talked the talk but failed to walk the walk when it was most important to do so. With each big moment success that Terry delivered, confidence, energy and enthusiasm soared throughout the team.  With each big moment failure to deliver on Steve's part, confidence, energy and enthusiasm were drained from the team. 

In the end, Terry is one of my favorite, if not my favorite player, I have coached.  I'm not sure it is fair to say Steve is my least favorite player.  It has more to do with disappointment with Steve. It's always about what might have been with Steve whereas with Terry it's always about the challenges met and obstacles overcome.

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