Preparing to perform up to our potential (the 3 P’s of success) is always our goal in training. A runner or team may or may not win a medal or trophy as a result of this, but that doesn’t make them any less of a champion if they’ve done everything they can to be the best runner and the best teammate they can be which is reflected in the following passage from the great coach John Wooden:
A coach can only do his best, nothing more, but he does owe that, not only to himself, but to the people who employ him and to the youngsters under his supervision. If you truly do your best, and only you will really know, then you are successful and the actual score is immaterial whether it was favorable or unfavorable. However, when you fail to do your best, you have failed, even though the score might have been to your liking.
This does not mean that you should not coach to win. You must teach your players to play to win and do everything in their power that is ethical and honest to win. I do not want players who do not have a keen desire to win and to play aggressively to accomplish that objective. However, I want to be able to feel and want my players to sincerely feel that doing the best that you are capable of doing is victory in itself and less than that is defeat.
It is altogether possible that whatever success I have had or may have could be in direct proportion to my ability not only to instill that idea in my players, but also to live up to it myself.
Therefore, I continually stress to my players that all I expect from them at practice and in the games is their best effort. They must be eager to become the best they are capable of becoming. I tell them that although I want them to be pleased over victory and individual accomplishment, I want them to get the most satisfaction from knowing that both they and the team did their best. I hope their actions or conduct following a game will not indicate victory or defeat. Heads should always be high when you have done your best regardless of the score and there is no reason for being overly jubilant at victory or unduly depressed by defeat.
Furthermore, I am rather thoroughly convinced that those who have the self-satisfaction of knowing they have done their best will also be on the most desirable end of the score much, and perhaps more, than their natural ability might indicate.
While that sense of self-satisfaction from knowing you’ve done your best is the ultimate prize, we do also believe that it’s important to recognize our “training champions” and hold them up as an example for others to follow.