Prepare Your Players By Lifting Their Spirits

By Mickey Marley

There is no question that a team is made up of individuals all trying to accomplish a common goal. It stands to reason that a player will perform better, accomplish more and have a better chance of success if he feels good about himself and what he is doing.

Mickey Marley coached college, high school and middle school football for 37 years. He recently published “Game Ready: 52 Takeaways for Winning” – a book that offers insights for football coaches.

Helping your player achieve a level of confidence through skill improvement is a critical objective for every coach.

If you think about it, we as coaches all face the same dilemma. Do you tell them what they need to hear or do you tell them what they want to hear? Truth is you must tell them what they need to hear as honestly and directly as possible. To do anything less is simply to falsely inflate a player’s ego, which does nothing to build skill-based confidence. Giving out false self-esteem doesn’t do anyone any favors, except your opponent. A world where everyone gets a participation trophy, certificate or ribbon does not exist in the real world of competition. Telling a player up front when he needs to make corrections prevents problems down the road for the entire team. Blunt assessment and honest critique matters most. What is at stake here quite frankly, is the success or failure of the team.

Don’t get me wrong, I believe a player’s self-esteem is important, but it must be developed legitimately. Coaches determine where the opportunity exists within each player. The best way to do that is through an honest individual player assessment. Every coach has his or her own style, which is as it should be. If that style is ‘firm but fair,’ then demonstrate that every time. If that style is ‘relaxed but always in control,’ then consistently deliver that style. But never confuse players by sugarcoating what needs to be fixed, no matter what kind of coaching style you use.

The job of building true self-esteem in an individual player is predicated on a coach taking time to show that player how to improve and holding him accountable for improving. When you get that you get a better, more confident player and, most importantly, a more confident individual. The more of those you get, the better your team gets. I call that Team Esteem.

There is nothing more satisfying than to coach a team that is confident, not cocky, but confident. It stands to reason these players will have a chance to dominate every time they compete if they follow the game plan and feed off the Team Esteem that has been created.

These statements sum up the job ahead when it comes to building Team Esteem.

  • You as a coach determine the self-esteem syndrome.
  • In the real world of competition everyone does not receive a trophy.
  • Coach with a consistent style that never falls back on the temptation to sugarcoat.
  • Turn individual self-esteem into Team Esteem.
  • Watch as individual and Team Esteem combine to create true confidence.

It’s really very simple. Giving out false self-esteem doesn’t do anyone any favors, except your opponent.


The Book Breakdown

In Game Ready: 52 Takeaways for Winning, author and coach Mickey Marley reveals the keys to cultivating talent, instilling teamwork, and creating a clear path to victory. From “Altering the Self-Esteem Syndrome” and “Potential Can Get You Fired” to “Want vs. Willing” and “Always Look Around to See What Can Hurt You,” Marley offers practical and insightful takeaways that will help everyone from coaches and CEOs to managers and school administrators become game ready.

Whether you’ve just gotten your first job or you’re a seasoned professional, Game Ready demonstrates not only how to work with people but how to inspire, motivate, and take your team to a championship level.

In his trademark firm but fair style, Marley shares what he’s learned from 37 years of coaching, mentoring, and teaching.

“Mickey’s book is a darn good read,” said former Tennessee football coach Phillip Fulmer, who wrote the forward. “He shares his passion for the game, his love for his kids, and lessons for life that we can all gain from.”