Know and Perform Your Role

By Greg Shelley, Ph.D.

(Here's a great article by my valued team member Dr. Greg Shelley on knowing, accepting, and performing roles to share with your athletes!)

It’s hard to take full responsibility for performing a role (and doing your job) until you are clear with what is being asked of you. Similarly, you must be willing to fully accept the role before you can expect to properly perform it.

With that said, the role must first be made clear (role clarity).  Do you understand the role you are being asked to perform? 

Second, the role must be accepted (role acceptance).  Are you willing to accept your assigned role? 

Third, the role must be performed (role performance).  Are you willing to perform and complete the outlined role?

Fourth, responsibility must be taken for having performed the role (role responsibility).  Are you willing to take responsibility for what you did or did not do?

Fifth, accountability to the role must be enforced (role accountability).  Are you willing to be held accountable to performing your role and doing so to the agreed upon and expected standards?

And sixth, your role performance must be consistently improved (role improvement).  Are you willing to commit to improving your role performance as you progress in your training and team membership?

Your motivation is directly tied to you knowing, understanding, accepting, and performing your role . . . as well as knowing you will be held responsible and accountable for role improvement. 

So, take time to work through the 6-levels of roles . . . role clarity, acceptance, performance, responsibility, accountability, and improvement.  Your performances depend on you doing so. 

Below are 6 Role Challenges for you to assess and apply to your current (and future) team roles.   



Be clear about your role.  If you are not sure about what you are being asked to do or what is expected from you when performing your role . . . ask for clarity!  You must be clear as to what your role is, including what your coach is expecting . . . and when . . . and under what conditions your role may change.  Be clear about all assigned roles, role responsibilities, and role expectations.

My role is:




Are you willing to accept your assigned role?  Once your assigned role has been clearly communicated and you understand what is being asked of you . . . you must decide if you are willing to accept the role and the conditions for which you are asked to perform it.  For example, you may be asked to perform a “backup” role when you believe you should be a starter.  If this is the assigned role for you, you must decide if you are willing to perform the backup role . . . and do so with the proper attitude, commitment, intensity, and follow-through.  You cannot expect yourself to successfully perform the role unless you first accept the role as it is presented to you.    

My role:

Accept: _______

Reject: ________



Do your job.  Upon fully accepting your assigned role . . . do your job!  Approach your role with the right attitude, mindset, focus, and purpose.  If you accept your role then do it right.  Perform your assigned role in the best way possible and with everything you have.  Perform to the agreed upon expectations, standards, and behaviors discussed.  If you are going to do the job . . . do it right!   

My role:

Attitude needed _____________________________________________________________

Focus needed _______________________________________________________________

Effort needed _______________________________________________________________



Take ownership for the job you did.  Whatever your results, take responsibility for the completed job.  If the outcome was positive and in-line with what was expected, then thank your coaches and teammates for their help.  If the outcome was less than expected or your performance did not reach the outlined standards, then take ownership for what you did and did not do.  No whining, complaining, or blaming others for something you did not do.  Admit any mistakes, take responsibility, and start focusing on what you can do to improve your next performance.    

My role:


Ownership taken ____________________________________________________



Ask for feedback and accountability.  Ask coaches and teammates for feedback on your completed performance.  Be willing to hear whatever feedback is provided.  Maybe your focus needs to shift, your response to mistakes needs to change, or your attention to detail needs to improve.  Whatever feedback is offered, be willing to hear it and then be held accountable to creating a plan for improving.  Ask for feedback and accountability.       

My role:

Feedback taken _______________________________________________________________

Accountability needed __________________________________________________________



Design a plan to improve.  With the help of a coach, teammate, friend, or performance consultant, create a plan for how you can better perform your role.  If you need to improve your physical conditioning then work with your coaches to improve your fitness.  If you need to improve your mental toughness then work with a sport psychology consultant to improve your confidence.  Design a plan to improve your future roles and performances.  Keep getting better . . . and have fun!
My plan for improving my performance is: 





“The price of greatness is responsibility.”
Winston Churchill


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