The word leadership is synonymous with sports, particularly in high school athlete leadership. Great leaders can rally teammates back into a game, mentor young or new athletes and create a winning culture.
“Contrary to the opinion of many people, leaders are not born. Leaders are made, and they are made by effort and hard work.”
– Vince Lombardi
Outside of sports, leadership can be demonstrated by influencing others by your character, humility, and example.
We all know the importance of leadership and can recognize the characteristics when we see it. However, we at the same time understand it is easy said then done.
So how can you take the above quote from Vince Lombardi and lead in the locker room or huddle, like a Peyton Manning, LeBron James or Derek Jeter?
Here are a few ways you can lead and make an impact that counts:
Be The Hardest Working
Often times demonstrating consistently a high work ethic, out-hustling everyone and setting the right example in school academically can resonate greatly with your teammates.
Your teammates know what it takes; they have sweat, bleed, and in some cases cried tears with you. So when they see you take your energy level, training, and commitment to the next level it can only set the stage for you to be the key influencer you never thought you could be.
Others may not take notice immediately since your peers may just think your actions may be phony, but over time they will have to give credit where credit is due.
As The Best Athlete, Be The Best Leader
While basically anyone, regardless of athletic ability, could earn enough respect to become a leader, the ideal situation is almost always when the best athlete is also the best leader.
But why is this so rarely the case?
Think about it. If you have ever joined a new team and observed the best player, he or she often demonstrates some of the following:
- They are often late to practice or key events
- They have terrible grades or are borderline academically
- They can be divas and have gotten by with their talent
- They don’t demonstrate a high work ethic since their talent temporarily gets them by
Think the NFL’s Terrell Owens, the NBA’s Gilbert Arenas, the NFL’s Sean Avery or even the MLB’s Barry Bonds.
Arguably, the best athlete already has a certain level of respect from the team because of their athletic skills. Their physical talent gives them an undeniable advantage to their teammates when it comes to leadership and provides them with an early platform from which to lead.
If you can combine your physical talent with effective leadership skills, you will become an imposing force on your team.
The end result of possessing the “Best Athlete/Best Leader” combo is a certain presence and respect that gets everyone on the team to listen to you and follow your lead. It translates to a team that trains hard and competes at a high level, #WINNING!
Be An Extension Of Your Coach On The Court/Field of Play
Athletes who echo their coach on the court or field of play are typically the most committed and competitive athletes on the team.
They commonly also have the most seniority and are upperclassmen because of the long term relationship they have built with their coach in understanding their philosophy, coaching style or cues.
They want to be the driving verbal force that won’t let standards slip. Through being an extension of their coach, they can often lead teams with ordinary talent to win championships.
Why don’t more athletes do this?
It may be because they lack confidence in their leadership skills. They don’t demand enough from their teammates because they worry too much about what others think of them.
This lack of leadership then puts all the burden on the coaching staff to continually set the tone rather than the athletes, who are in action, to step up and take responsibility.
By building some level of a relationship with your coach to understand his or her coaching philosophy may better enable you to be a vessel of reinforcement while huddled or in action with your teammates.
Be Protective of Your Team’s Culture
I cannot tell you how important this is and why it is constantly overlooked.
If you are mid-season and have reached a critical point where your team needs to turn it around, who does your team look to?
If there is drama happening in the locker room before, during or after the game, who can the coaching staff depend on when they are not around?
These unique leaders take pride in their team’s culture and do everything they can to enhance, protect, and preserve it.
If someone spazzes out in a huddle or locker room in a way that is outside of what is considered appropriate, the culture leaders will step in and set the person straight. They quickly confront those who do not act in a way that is aligned with the team’s vision, values, and standards.
In addition, sometimes the culture leader will contribute more to their team’s success with their leadership than they do with their individual physical talent.
Combining the above with your physical ability is a win-win for everyone.
Be A Social Leader
You know the guy that gets everyone laughing after a blow out loss.
Or the girl who arranges an ice-breaking social event between the lower and upperclassmen athletes on the team.
Now there’s a good and bad side to being a social leader.
While they are known to be the popular and funny individual who helps vastly improve team chemistry with social events or building strong relationships with the different mini-groups within your team, the social leaders are also known to make your team’s social life THE priority.
It’s cool and all to get along and have a good time at the parties they plan and host, but not at the detriment of your school team’s success and reputation.
Because after all, we all know or have heard about THOSE schools, right?
High School Athlete Leadership
In summary, we all know the importance of leadership whether in a huddle, in the locker room or outside of sports.
We also can understand it’s impact on team success and can recognize the characteristics when we see it.
There are a plethora of ways to lead, some of which include working the hardest, leading even as the most talented athlete, being a coach on the field of play, protecting your team’s culture and being the glue guy or girl socially.
The trick is to understand what leadership method best fits you and how you can utilize it to make an impact that counts.
Tell us in the comment section below, out of the 5 options presented above, what leadership method do you fit in? What other leadership methods have you used?
And if you are a high school student athlete, know of one or are a parent or teacher, sign up for our email newsletter by clicking here and you will get a free download of a sports specific workout co-created with the strength and conditioning coaches at Grunt Performance to help you dominate the sport you love playing.
We are committed to supporting and helping the next generation of student athletes be above their class both on and off the field of play.
-The Classlete Team