What Does It Mean To Play To Win?

play to winsource

I’m not only a coach at my college, but also an administrator.  Because of that, I end up on a lot of search committees.  I’m not complaining though, because it’s an excuse for me to hear different coach’s philosophies and ideas on coaching.

It was at one of these interviews, sitting at a breakfast meeting, that I heard this Play To Win philosophy.  It’s more than that though…more like a curriculum.  The gentleman started explaining what he did with his current team and I started grilling him about what went into his program.  It’s great and I told him I was going to steal it and I have.

Playing to win sounds so cliché and so obvious.  But how many of us really think our student-athletes are always behaving with the team’s best interests at heart?  So let’s talk about the Play To Win curriculum.  I tweaked what he talked about (his included leadership training, study tables, etc.) to fit what would work with my team.

Play To Win

  • What does it mean to win? This is where I talked to my team about the different ways of winning.  A high team GPA is a win.  Players who go to study abroad are a win.  And, of course, winning games is a win.
  • Requirements of being on a team.  A lot of times, folks want to be on a team, but they don’t want to put in the work.  That work could be hitting the weight room or it can be figuring out how to be happy with whatever role you have on the team.
  • Leadership/captains.  The main point of this bullet is their role in squashing “girl drama”.  I don’t believe a leader should be involved in “girl drama” and they should be active in shooting it down if they see it.  And of course the typical captain stuff: liason between coach and team, hold teammates accountable, etc.
  • Off-season.  At my level, we don’t get much of an off-season because it’s against NCAA rules.  And my team is from all across the country, so getting together in the summer for pick up games isn’t a realistic solution.  So I talked to the players about being accountable for their workouts.  We’re only in season for three months…the rest of the time is on them.



I also addressed recruiting, our non-traditional season, and having high standards in the classroom.  It all culminated with my asking them to begin with the end in mind.  I asked them what they wanted to say about our season in November, when it’s all over.

To think winning happens in the small amount of time we have with them during the season is hopeful at best, delusional at worst.

If you decide to come up with your own Play to Win curriculum, shoot me an email so that I can check it out!