Leadership in Athletics: Find a Rival

Who is your rival? Do you have one? Gatorade’s latest commercial provides a valuable and motivating message from NFL superstar J.J. Watt: find a rival. This can be valuable advice for any leader.

Coaches and team leaders often struggle with keeping focus and driving maximum effort during the off-season grind. Every workout matters, and it falls on team leaders to keep the team’s focus. Finding a rival can be a great way to maintain that focus as a key part of goal setting.

Goal setting has incredible benefits for a team. It elevates performance by maintaining focus, regulating effort, facilitating prioritization and aligning the energy and agendas of the team.  Goal setting impacts both individual and team performance.

Few teams leverage a rival better than Ohio State’s football team. They won’t even call their rival by name and instead refer to them as The Team Up North (TTUN). They have off-season workouts (often the hardest) called TTUN; they post previous scores all over the facilities and they even have a countdown clock to remind coaches and athletes that every second matters in preparation for the rivalry game.

Leaders can learn from these examples. They can identify their main competitor as a rival or some other organization that allows them to put a purpose to their opponent. This helps the team remember their effort matters.

Leaders need to be able to implement goal setting effectively. Try putting the focus on a rival to energize goal setting throughout the team.


Photo Credit: Maize & Blue Nation

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