Several years ago I read a terrific book written by Joe Torre, then manager of the New York Yankees (Ground Rules for Winners). Torre wrote about his direct experiences with the Yankees, as well as his philosophies for working with players to improve team culture and mental toughness.
All coaches know the challenges that come with maximizing the potential from a team – after all, games aren’t won “on paper,” and the challenge of leading a team to on-field success can be daunting, to put it lightly. In Torre’s case, the Yankees spent the most money annually and were expected to win – making his job equally, if not more challenging, than his peers.
So, how do coaches get the most from their players? Torre offered many thoughts around this question, but one philosophy I really liked was his approach to treating each player uniquely, but applying the same rules to all. Think about that for a moment – you can develop stronger, more personal relationships with players by getting to know each player as an individual, but when it comes to rules enforcement Torre says all players should be treated the same.
Torre’s approach to leadership differs from some others who either feel:
A) all players should be treated the same all the time, or that
B) “special” players should have looser penalties when they break team rules
Using Torre’s philosophy, coaches must work diligently to get to know their players, including unique motivation strategies as well as communication techniques for dealing with stress, adversity, and slumps. Similarly, coaches must also have conviction and remain strong for those unfortunate times when star players make poor decisions – and in those instances the coach must follow through on appropriate punishment (even if the player is the best on the team).
Joe Torre may not be a sports psychologist, but his understanding of coaching elite-level athletes is something all coaches can learn from, regardless of sport or talent levels.