4 Stages of What It Takes to Win Championships

By Jeff Janssen, Janssen Sports Leadership Center

Coaches and athletic administrators often lament,

Our athletes say they want to win Championships but they just don’t understand or do What It Takes.”

You’re right, unfortunately most of them don’t.

  • They don’t realize the huge investment it takes.
  • They don’t know the intensity and focus it takes.
  • They don’t comprehend the mental toughness it takes to compete against the top teams.
  • They don’t value and pay attention to the critical little details it takes like you do.
  • They don’t grasp how important it is to hold themselves and their teammates accountable.
  • They don’t have any idea about the collective liters of blood, gallons of sweat, and tissue boxes full of tears necessary to win Championships.

4 Stages of What It Takes to Win Championships

In our work with tens of thousands of athletes and coaches over the past 25 years, we've seen teams progress through four different stages as they attempt to ascend to a lofty Championship level. As you look through each of the four stages, determine which stage your team is in right now, and which stage you need to get them to if you are serious about winning Championships.

Stage 1 – Understand What It Takes to Win Championships

Unfortunately, the vast majority of athletes don’t fully realize the quantity or quality of hard work, or the high-level Mentality, Culture, or Execution necessary to win Championships. (See the results of our Survey below.)

They don't comprehend the intense investment and long-term process required. Athletes often think they know What It Takes but really don’t; many are quite clueless because they're used to most things coming instantly or being handed to them without working for them.

Stage 1 is getting athletes to fully UNDERSTAND exactly What It Takes to Win Championships. Just as it takes time to learn physical skills and strategies, your athletes must be taught and coached on the winning Mentality, Culture, and Execution It Takes to compete and succeed at a highest levels. If they are not systematically taught and drilled on What It Takes, your athletes will have to learn the hard way after falling short of their goals and watching other teams advance who demonstrated What It Takes. Only after truly knowing What It Takes to Win Championships can your athletes intelligently and completely make a commitment to it and actually do it.

Stage 2 – Do What It Takes to Win Championships

Once your athletes sufficiently understand What It Takes, they can then progress to the next critical stage - to actually DO What It Takes to Win Championships. Of course, this is an even tougher stage. Your athletes now must put in the daily, weekly, monthly, season-long, and offseason-long work necessary to win Championships. They must pay the high yet worthwhile price of success by putting in the grueling work in practices, in the weight room, in conditioning, with their diet, with video work, mental training, etc.

Stage 2 is really where the rubber meets the road and is a key differentiator. Many athletes and coaches say they want to win Championships and may profess an initial commitment, but when it comes time to actually doing the daily work, they don’t walk their talk. When the drudgery, monotony, pain, and frustration set in, they give up and give in. They might understand What It Takes but fail to consistently do What It Takes throughout the course of your season - and thus fail to win Championships.

Stage 3 – Lead Others to Do What It Takes to Win Championships

Once you can develop a group of athletes who consistently sustain their ability to do What It Takes, they establish themselves as Leaders by Example and earn the respect, trust, street credibility, and platform to LEAD OTHERS to do What It Takes to Win Championships. Winning is a team effort. Just because a handful of your athletes might do What It Takes doesn’t mean their teammates will consistently do it too.

You need to develop a core group of leaders who will lead their teammates in such a way that they want to join them on this Championship quest and willingly put in the essential hard work as well. Your leaders will need to motivate their teammates to practice, train, lift, eat, and compete at a high level and overcome the inevitable adversity, obstacles, and struggles your team will face throughout the season. Once you have a core group of people who consistently does What It Takes, encourage them to lead others to do What It Takes as well.

Stage 4 – Hold Others Accountable to Do What It Takes to Win Championships

Finally, if you want to win Championships, you will need to have at least one or two compelled athletes (preferably more) who reliably HOLD OTHERS ACCOUNTABLE to do What It Takes to Win Championships.

As your season goes on, as adversity strikes, as people don’t play the roles they would like to, and as selfishness arises, many of your athletes will stop being as interested in and committed to doing What It Takes to Win Championships. They will be more interested in looking out for themselves and less interested in making the necessary sacrifices. It happens with virtually every team, especially as losses occur, frustrations mount, roles get delineated, cliques develop, conflicts flare up, and stuff hits the fan. Over the course of a long season many athletes lose their early motivation, their attention drifts, and their commitment wavers.

You must have at least one or two compelled athletes who keep their teammates fully engaged, help them make sense of the struggles, provide an inspiring reason why to keep working and sacrificing, and hold them fully accountable to your team's standards. You must have athletes who effectively hold their teammates accountable to sustain the Championship Mentality, Culture, and Execution necessary to win, even when, and especially when, it is difficult to do so.


Which Stage is your team in currently?

Which Stage do you need to get them to?


How Does Your Team Compare?

Based on 25 years of experience working with over 20,000 athletes, many of them vying for not just conference championships but National Championships, I would say that roughly:


95-99% of athletes say they want to win Championships
15-20% of athletes fully understand What It Takes to Win Championships
10-15% of athletes consistently do What It Takes to Win Championships
•   5-10% of athletes successfully lead others to do What It Takes to Win Championships
•   2-5% of athletes effectively hold others accountable to do What It Takes to Win Championships

This is exactly why winning Championships is so hard.
This is exactly why winning Championships is so fragile.
This is exactly why winning Championships is so special.

  • Few people fully understand What It Takes to Win Championships.
  • Even less consistently do What It Takes to Win Championships.
  • Fewer still effectively lead their teammates to do What It Takes to Win Championships.
  • And only a small handful are willing to hold their teammates accountable to do What It Takes to Win Championships.

 

I also surveyed coaches at the college, high school, and club levels. Here's what they said:

College Level (Division I, III, III)

92% of athletes say they want to win Championships
19% of athletes fully understand What It Takes to Win Championships
15% of athletes consistently do What It Takes to Win Championships
10% of athletes successfully lead others to do What It Takes to Win Championships
•   8% of athletes effectively hold others accountable to do What It Takes to Win Championships

High School and Club Level

82% of athletes say they want to win Championships
21% of athletes fully understand What It Takes to Win Championships
21% of athletes consistently do What It Takes to Win Championships
12% of athletes successfully lead others to do What It Takes to Win Championships
10% of athletes effectively hold others accountable to do What It Takes to Win Championships

Thus, with essentially 80% of athletes still needing to learn and understand exactly What It Takes to Win Championships, we must begin the whole process at Stage 1. We must invest the time to help athletes who say they want to win Championships learn and do What It Takes to actually get there.

If you too really want to win Championships, you must invest the time to help your athletes understand What It Takes, do What It Takes, lead others to do What It Takes, and hold others accountable to do What It Takes.

Teach Your Athletes What It Takes with Our All-New What It Takes to Win Championships Program

If your team is at Stage 1 and part of the 80% of athletes who still need to fully understand What It Takes or trying to get to Stage 2 but struggle to consistently do it, be sure to check out our all-new What It Takes to Win Championships Program. The practical and proven program is based on our work with 30+ National Championship teams.

We are offering a special, limited-edition, 1.0 version of this one-of-a-kind program but you must order by December 14 as we are only producing the exact number ordered by this date. Click here or on the cover to learn more...

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