Finding a solution to losing isn’t relevant only to sports. It’s relevant to field – your career, your business, your personal fitness. Losing has many definitions. Regardless of which one you believe in, we all experience losing. No one is immune to it. The good news is that we learn how to win at anything by studying losing. The bad news is that if losing isn’t corrected, it becomes chronic. If you don’t start winning, someone else will. Someone else will take over first place. They’ll get the job that you were competing for, the promotion you wanted, the business you were going after. I wrote the following article called “The solution to losing” for Coachbook but it’s not just for football coaches. It applies to anyone in any field. I posted a Youtube video at the end of the article of a recent TV interview I did. Hope it gets you motivated.
The Solution to Losing
I admit it – I’m a poor loser. I don’t like losing. Losing isn’t fun. Hate is a powerful word but I hate losing football games for one reason – I believe there is no reason for losing. Dual meaning. There’s no reason to lose because the reason for losing is simple, identifiable, and preventable – weakness. Physical and mental weakness is the reason for every loss, bar none. The solution to weakness, physically and mentally, is working out. Not strength and conditioning, not training…working out. There’s a big difference between working out and strength & conditioning and training. It starts at the top – mindset.
Every nightmare season and every championship season we’ve experienced all are tied to the same reason – working out. The level of off-season working out has been the main predictor of every season’s outcome. High-performance workouts guarantee a championship, likely undefeated. Low-performance workouts guarantee a losing season, often winless.
Every winning season we’ve ever had was shaped by working out harder than the rest. Every losing season we’ve ever suffered through has been shaped not working out harder than the rest. Dual meaning – the rest of the competition and excessive rest. I’ve kept strict records of all 40 seasons I’ve coached, including my 30 seasons as head coach where I was responsible for a solution to losing. Losing is not failure as long as you’re trying to solve it. Losing is failure only when it’s accepted, unsolved, and allowed to continue without working out in the direction of a solution.
The solution to losing is working out. Here’s what our team research has shown about the relationship between working out and winning and losing:
1. Working out better suddenly makes our plays better. Xs and Os don’t win. Xs and Os in conjunction with high-performance workouts wins. In all of our 40 seasons, there’s been a direct relationship in our work out performance and our ‘work’ performance. We call game performance ‘work’ performance because game day is ‘work’ day. When we work out better, our running plays, pass plays, run stopping, and pass coverage all get better. We’ve won championships with a primitive playbook, a sophisticated playbook, and lost miserably with the same. Formations, alignments, assignments have all been secondary to work out performance. Nothing works out without high-performance workouts. The quality of Xs and Os is contingent on the quality of team workouts. When our teams fully commit to working out, we win big. When we don’t, we lose big.
2. I saw a panel on TV last night debating whether or not defense wins championships. Working out wins championships – not defense, not offense, not special teams. Our team’s won-loss record is made in the weight room and on the track. The regular season is a manifestation of the off-season. What we do or don’t do in the off-season reveals in what we do and don’t do in the off-season.
3. Working out is transformational. Positive or negative transformation. Consistent high-performance workouts have turned around the culture of every losing program I’ve taken over. Consistent low-performance workouts have caused every losing season that I been responsible for. No exception. I have seen the best and worst in team work outs. Not one high performance workout team I’ve coached has ever had a nightmare hell season. Not one low performance workout team I’ve coached has ever won.
4. Labels matter. Calling it ‘working out’ instead of ‘strength & conditioning’ or ‘training’ has always produced far better game-day performance. The reason is the psychological factor related to the concept of ‘work.’ My personal coaching mission is to change the work ethic in every individual on our team. Improving work ethic is my primary aim. It’s my true scoreboard. The words ‘work’ and ‘job’ are at the top of my coaching vocabulary because I believe with all my heart that: (a) working hard and doing a job right is learned, not inherited; (b) outworking the competition is the number one factor in real-life professional success by whatever definition of success is chosen; (c) it’s impossible to succeed in sports or real-life, by whatever definition chosen, by being lazy; (d) the biggest problem I have to solve every season, bar none, is laziness. Raising the work ethic bar is what I have to do to survive in coaching. It’s always been that way since the 1980’s when I got my first head coaching job and it’s the same today only worse. Work ethic has plummeted in my reality. I believe that dropping work ethic in student-athletes is a crisis that needs immediate solution for the sake of our children’s future. Raising the work ethic bar is my biggest challenge and the toughest job I have because changing work ethic is student-athletes is draining. I have to spill my guts to get my team to spill its guts. Every workout, every practice. I’ve never stood on the sidelines during any workout to make sure that every player learns the true meaning of ‘work’ and commitment to doing the best ‘job’ possible. Calling it working out make a psychological impact about the significance and need for sustained exertion without suffering adversely from fatigue. My mission is to teach players the reality of working 8-hour days, 40+ hour work-weeks in real-life. The key to “working out” is increasing workload volume, not four second bursts of work followed by 40 seconds rest. Longer sets, shorter rests. The Xs and Os is the easy part in comparison to raising the work ethic bar. The hard part is teaching them to work a full shift without slacking off after the first break.
5. High-performance workouts build everything that needs to be built – team unity, character, passion, will, all the necessary elements of the survivor mentality needed to last in a violent sport that carries the potential of catastrophic injury, physically and psychologically. Working out is the essential to player safety, the force that builds armor – body, mind, and soul armor. High performance workouts clears the conscience in the never-ending moral struggle about player safety. I won’t let weak players on the field for the safety of each player and the safety of the team. A weak player who has failed to work out is a threat to self and the team. Contact sports are not a right. They’re a privilege that has to be earned.
I’ve included a Youtube link of a TV interview I did recently about the transformational power of working out. Working out has changed my life from an obese, dysfunctional 12-year old. Working out has changed the lives of every underdog student-athlete I’ve coached who committed to consistent, high-performance workouts. Body, mind, and soul transformation. Working out teaches the most powerful and enduring lessons of all sports lessons. Football is temporary. Working out is permanent. A football career is a small fraction of one’s life. A work out career lasts a lifetime. Football retirement age is awfully young. You’re lucky if you can call yourself an active football player on your 20th birthday. Early retirement is a fact of life for football players. Then what? Rocking chairs, cardigan, and remote control? Become a spectator instead of a participator? If working out has not become a habit by football retirement date, sedentary life negates all the benefits learned and experienced during a playing career. My coaching goal is to make lifelong athletes. My definition of an athlete is any woman or man who works out to compete against an external opponent or the toughest opponent of all – the inner opponent that urges you to quit working out, urges you to let yourself go, and urges you to watch life from the sidelines. Be a lifelong athlete. Keep working out. Never stop working out. Here’s the link to the TV interview.
Gino Arcaro M.Ed., B.Sc., NCCP Level 3
Head coach – Niagara X-men football
Owner – X Fitness Inc.
Gino Arcaro is a widely published author. His website, blog, Youtube channel, and list of books are at: www.ginoarcaro.com