You + Me = We….and “We” is a Mighty Force! Thursday, September 14, 2017
by: Adam Smotherman, MS, SCCC, CSCS, USAW, SSN
Assistant Strength & Conditioning Coach
Clemson University Football
In the field of strength and conditioning, force is the foundation of much of our work. Force production is involved in everything we do in terms of human movement, and is one of the primary physical capabilities we work to improve throughout a student-athlete’s career. “Force = Mass x Acceleration” is an elementary physics equation which allows athletic output and improvement to take place. We want to produce as much force as we can in the least amount of time. Strength and conditioning coaches use a variety of presses, squats, pulls, sprints, and other movements to achieve this goal, resulting in improved physical capacity in on-field performance.
While physical ability is important to athletic performance, an aspect of sport perhaps more vital is the force created when a group of people work together for a common purpose. Call it a “mass” of individuals “accelerating” toward a goal. This “force” is far more powerful than the physical might any one individual is capable of with his/her body. If you have been involved with football (or any sport for that matter), you have witnessed one of its best force-producing qualities – teamwork. No athlete or coach has ever won a game by himself/herself. The force of a team is in the vision its members are bought into, the relationships that form the inner structure of the program, the quality and regularity of the work that is put in, the excellence with which team members live, and the consistency with which each of these qualities is connected and cultivated.
The force of the team is driven by and toward an incredible vision, a goal and expectation of what the future will look like. As Jim Collins writes in Good to Great, we must have “big, hairy, audacious goals” to work toward. In other words, we must dream big! As the Bible says in Proverbs 29, “Where there is no vision, the people perish.” Furthermore, for this team force to successfully move toward the goal, we must work to achieve it. As Thoreau said, “Success usually comes to those who are too busy to be looking for it.” Hard work is not always fun, but losing is never fun. In addition to vision and hard work, every member of the organization must live with excellence and be tremendously consistent in their habits. Champions tend to consistently live like champions before they ever win a ring, a trophy, a medal, or a pennant.
Vision, work, excellence in life, and consistency are tremendously important to team success. Obviously, talent plays a tremendous role in athletic success, but it is vital that the talent is not looked at as just talent – they are student-athletes who have dreams, hopes, goals, desires, personalities, histories, futures, and souls regardless of 40-yard dash time, squat max, or touchdowns scored. A strong relationship between the coach and the athlete is a powerful foundational piece of the force of the team. This relationship means that the coach cares about the players’ needs, loves them regardless of performance, and serves their hearts and not their talents. Student-athletes are responsible for working to maximize their talent by the guidance of the coach, and coaches are responsible for loving players and giving them the best wisdom possible. A successful team must also have a tremendous “locker room” culture, meaning the players in the organization must be a strong, tightly-knit group. As Jon Gordon puts it, “Team beats talent when talent isn’t a team.” When a group is talented AND a team, it has a chance to be special.
An individual working alone can easily be stopped on a journey, be that a quick journey such as a play in football, or a long trek such as an entire. Ecclesiastes 4:9 says, “Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil.” God knit us together as relational people, not as hermits. He created us to thrive in the context of human relationships and interactions. We need people with whom we can celebrate our victories, and we need people who can pick us up when we are down. How many presidents have won an election campaign alone? Zero. How many players have won a national championship without their coaches? None. How many coaches have won a contest without their players? Zilch. Even in sports with “individual” competitions and championships, such as tennis or wrestling, how many athletes have won a championship without the help of coaches, teammates, family/friends, etc.? Zero. The teams that buy in to “we” have a much higher chance of achieving because they are too busy working together and believing in each other to be distracted or defeated.
Whether a person is an athlete, a coach, an administrator, a fan, or has zero affiliations with athletics; we are all part of a team. Families are teams. Friends are teams. Coworkers are teams. Citizens of the United States of America are a team. Human beings are a team. You are someone’s teammate in some capacity, and that person needs you just as much as you need that person. Therefore, adopt a “We” mentality and you will be one step closer to achieving your goals, aspirations, hopes, and dreams. And, don’t forget the most important relationship of all – God. He is our Head Coach, and sets the tone for all of us. You + Me = We…and “We” is a mighty force!