Now that your season is winding down, when is it OK to relax the atmosphere of your team and “just let them play” the remainder of the season. The short answer is never. But the Stoics and pop culture have much more to say on that.
Stoic philosopher Diogenes in his old age was told to take it easy and rest more. He simply stated that he would never rest because there are always more goals to achieve. And he did just that. Right up until he died, he was always questioning convention, challenging power, and insisting on truth. So, right up until the last whistle blows or until the locker room is cleared out, always teach, coach, and compete.
Another Stoic, Marcus Aurellis, also thought old age (or the end of a season or a blow out game) was no excuse for coasting or relaxing the developmental and competitive culture. He refused to stop learning. He wrote: “no matter how old we are, no matter how long we’ve been at this, it’s far too early to stop and say, ‘close enough’.”
For our athletic department, this means we should continue to become as good as we can be and search for the best way to teach and perform no matter what part of the season it is. An experienced coach, as well as, a rookie coach should be searching for the best ways to reach his/her staff and athletes, no matter what part of the season it is. This doesn’t mean the coach should be overactive and distract athletes while they try to compete. It means the coach will be a relentless teacher, coach, and leader for the team- with appropriate actions at the appropraite times. Think perserverance. Perserverance is a key component to peak performance – and Diogenes and Marcus Aurellis were examples of that.As the recent AT&T commercial states, “Just OK is not OK.” I agree with this statement. I believe in the Before, During, and After approach to athletic development. This means you will prepare in a quality manner, compete in the present moment, and evaluate your controllables after each performance. We (as coaches and athletes) must be aware of our situation (Be Present), accept the situation for what it is (No Judgments), and take action (Do It) that puts us in the best position to perform our best. The scoreboard, clock, or season schedule does not dictate our effort, enthusiasm, and energy. Whether you are preparing for a champinship run or merely finishing the season schedule, you determine how you think, feel, and act at ALL parts of the season. Respect each practice and each game. Strive to be your best…all the time.