|He has "it".|
The off-season must accomplish a couple of different goals. One of them should invariably be to create "it" in every player.
"It" is a competitiveness or a desire to win. Players with "it" don't make excuses for themselves. They constantly srive to get better each day and can reflect on why they were successful or why they were not. These players don't take credit for what they do and don't lay blame on others.
Players with "it" will lead by example even if they are not the most vocal person.
Not that I want to get into the national Tim Tebow debate, but he definitely has "it". What he lacks in quarterbacking skills at the moment, he makes up for with "it". His teammates believe in him and I feel like the entire team plays better when he is at the helm.When he was drafted in the first round last year I didn't know if he was going to be a good NFL quarterback, but I wasn't willing to bet against him.
So, how do you succeed in creating players who have "it"?
The first way is to instill rules in your off-season strength & conditioning program. Policies within your school or district may dictate whether you can make your off-season program mandatory or not, but finding a way to make your players want to be there is the first step.
We use a Pride Point system where players earn "points" for accomplishing various tasks. Attendance at lifting earns points. Good grades earn points. Playing another sports earns points. Volunteering for our community service or fundraising projects earns points.
Then, we use these points to determine the order for equipment and jersey selection. We also use this list to determine the order serving players during our team dinners. This has the potential to get some kids to buy in and creates a little bit of competition for things that kids normally wouldn't care to compete for. We have had incoming freshmen get equipment before seniors simply because they were more involved in the program.
The most important thing we do is ensure that every drill we run has a starting point and a finishing point. Our players know that their feet must start behind the line and they must go full speed until their body is through the end line. Even in our dynamic warm-up, players understand if their movement stops before the line, they need to get an extra rep in.
When a player doesn't start behind the line, we lay the blame on both the individual and those he is running with in his group. How easy is it to look down the line and see if someone is offsides? We preach communicating even when you are tired. A team takes care of their teammates and has each other's backs.
As a coaching staff, we look at these blunders as mental mistakes and talk about how we have to continue to focus even when we are tired. The end of conditioning is the same as the end of the fourth quarter to us.