Updated: Jan 1, 2021
One of the primary things Coach Drinkwitz emphasized when he arrived at Mizzou was the mentality to “Always Compete”. As football coaches, we use the word compete over and over. We describe certain players as “great competitors” and we are always looking for players that “love to compete”. The big question is how to we get our players to compete or better yet, how do we get our players to have a love of the competition? It is an interesting study of human nature in terms of what makes someone a competitor? Is it intrinsic or is it something that can be taught?
Our default answer as coaches is to take the perspective whether the competitive nature is born or made, we are COACHES. We are going to put our energy and effort into “making” our team as competitive as possible. If Johnny, on a scale of 1-10, is a “3” competitor, then we are going to coach him up into being a “4” or a “5” competitor. That’s what coaches do. We take what we have and make the very best it can be.
I had a young guy coach with me that was one of the greatest competitors of all time. He had about 5 acres of land to mow every week during the summer. Every time he mowed his land, he would time himself with a stopwatch, trying to beat his best time ever. A stopwatch can be a great motivator.
During our off-season drills at Mizzou, we time every drill and post the results for all to see. For certain players, that is great motivation. For others, you have to approach things in a different manner. We can’t let our guys ever be satisfied with giving less than their best. I have said a 1,000 times, if all you want out of football is the be the best left guard in your school, you have missed a huge benefit of the game of football.
The ultimate competitive challenge is to do your best every single day and then wake up tomorrow, and do it again. That simple process makes all the difference between success and failure. Our ultimate foe is ourselves. That part of us that says, your too small, your too stupid, your too slow, your too tired, the coaches hate me, everyone else is better than me, and so on and so on.
For many years, I missed the true meaning of competition. In most competitions, you have a clear winner and loser. Putting everything you have into something with the risk of losing is really one of the beauties of competition. Watching those kids run off the field last Saturday afternoon is sight I will never forget. It would not have been as sweet without the struggle.
The word, “compete” comes from the Latin, “com” which means: together. “petere” is Latin for aim at, seek, strive, or contend for. When you put those two together, you get, “strive together”. We are lucky to have the opportunity to coach such a great sport. We are lucky to have teammates and fellow coaches with whom we can “strive together”. We should also be thankful to have worthy adversaries that bring out the best in all of our “competitive” natures.