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How to Win

Locked in a Space Ship

How would you like to go to Mars?

A Russian research group has just wound up a 105-day experiment to test the ability of the crew to get along on such a trip.

Here’s the reality of traveling to another planet: It takes time. And one of the concerns of scientists is whether people can co-exist in a spaceship for that length of time. After ll, you can’t pull over and visit a rest stop. You can’t get out and stretch your legs. You have to figure out a way to make it all work, or the mission won’t be a success. In this environment, personalities matter just as much as — if not more than — skill.

What does this have to do with coaching? Your season is a lot like a trip to Mars. You’re with the same crew, and you have to find a way to make it work. Personalities and attitude really matter.

One of my most disappointing seasons involved a team that just never seemed happy. It was an extremely skilled unit, but it never felt right all year long. As coaches, we were mystified and frustrated. One day we took the players on a mystery walk where the destination was an ice cream shack. We were hoping that getting away from the gym might put a smile on their face. It didn’t.

When the playoffs came, the team had no unity or common purpose, and lost in the first round.

In space, the stakes will be much higher, but one thing won’t change — unless the crew members can become a team and function together, the mission won’t be a success.


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