One of the things a coach is responsible for is to help his team learn how to win. To some that seems like a ridiculous statement – “doesn’t that just come with scoring more points?” Technically speaking - yes. But there are other aspects to this, especially when facing strong competition. What I mean by this is a team must be taught the difference between “playing to win” vs. “playing not to lose.”
This happens when facing a strong opponent, maybe one that others expect to beat your team. When your team gets ahead they start tightening up and “playing not to lose” (afraid of making mistakes.) They seem shocked to be ahead in the game as though they had not truly expected to be there. This is where the coaching comes in to get them over that hump to where they not only expect to be winning, but are shocked when they are behind.
How does this happen? Obviously that is why so many hours are spent practicing and honing individual skills. Hours are spent teaching teamwork. A coach’s job is preparation physically and mentally. He has to let the players know that he is right there with them – guiding them – earning their trust. Then it comes down to a simple formula: success breeds success! The players have to battle through the uncertainties of the game and find themselves on the winning side. Or as the great Vince Lombardi said: “Winning is a habit!”
How free do you think players would be if the coach told them they couldn’t lose? If they truly believed that no matter how bleak the game looked or how huge their opponent is, they have the winning formula? What great confidence!
Do you realize that life is much like a game? Sometimes the opponents (struggles) seem too large or great. Yet other times seem to go very easy. Our goal as believers is to understand that our victory is found in the same place in either circumstance – the Lord Jesus Christ.
The Apostle Paul understood it as he faced a very topsy-turvy life. He endured beatings, shipwrecks, hunger, etc. He also had times of prosperity where the churches took great care of him. Through it all he found contentment and victory in Christ! (See Philippians 4:13)
King David understood it as he wrote the famous 23rd Psalm. He found his comfort in the “green pastures and quiet waters” or in “the valley of the shadow of death.” He knew it was God’s presence that was his victory. (Heard a great message on this passage this morning by the interim pastor at my in-laws’ church. He is a professor at Palm Beach Atlantic University and did a great job pointing out the ever-present, pursuing God of David!)
Read through Psalm 23 and see how David found victory! He ends the psalm with the assurance that he will win in the end – he will “dwell in the house of the Lord forever!”
For the believer – winning should be a habit – after all it is a guarantee!