03 December, 2015

Morale and Success

Morale and Success

[Photo credit: Chad Cooper]

What a difference a week makes in sport! This is why I love working with teams as a week can see huge improvements due to just small adjustments. Recently, a team I was working with was shaping up to have a tough day of competition in the den of the enemy with last minute ground changes. This was on top of a few big losses in previous weeks and injuries to key players.

Fortunately the team turned up with a sense of discipline and attitude that brought a strong sense of teamwork. After the win there was an amazing sense of high morale around the group that flowed into the following week’s training. This got me thinking about the importance of good morale.

The best morale exists when you never hear the word mentioned. When you hear a lot of talk about it, it’s usually lousy. - Dwight D. Eisenhower

Morale is a state of mind or attitude of confidence and wellbeing. As I saw with this team, the morale lifted with some subtle changes to attitude. This ultimately lifted the team performance as a whole. I believe this was the deciding factor in being able to achieve the win, in what were tough conditions leading up to the game. Some things that I saw that enabled the high morale were:

  • Leadership: The leadership group stepped up in their sense of purpose and voice and the rest of the group willingly followed and played their part.
  • A sense of belonging: They knew why they were wearing the club colours and what that represented. They lived up to the expectations of those who have worn it before.
  • Comradeship: They had a sense of pride and self-belief in those beside them and wanted to live up to their expectations.
  • Mutual confidence: Not only were they confident of their own ability, but so too the abilities of their teammates. This spurred on their own sense of dedication and workman type attitude.
  • Discipline: The discipline on the field was fantastic. Each player came with a sense of purpose and this ensured that the team attitude and work ethic reflected this.

So morale is not something that we can just get, it must be developed and nurtured. Without morale then discipline and a sense of belonging quickly fall away. Team performance suffers and ultimately failure will occur.

I encourage coaches to understand the effect that morale has on their teams, identify when it is low and set about changing it.

© 2019 Paul Mead