How to Build a Championship Team

Every team wants to win a championship, but each year, only one team gets to win the championship. So if you're a coach, how do you rise above your competition and build a championship team? 

Here is the obvious answer: it's all about creating the best product on the field. You have to create a team that performs so well game after game, that they make the playoffs, advance to the championship game, and is able to beat the best competition that your league has to offer in the championship game.

A more helpful answer comes from asking, "How do you create this product on the field?"
This answer comes down to 2 factors: talent and performance. Your product on the field is a product of these two things. Every game between two teams is a match up between these two factors. 

Here are some bar graphs to demonstrate how these two factors determine the outcome of games.

The black bar represents a team's talent, or their potential or ceiling. The red inside the bar represents a team's performance skills. This is their ability to use their talent and reach their potential in games. The top of the red represents the team's quality of the product on the field. The comparison between the tops of reds determines the outcomes of games. The winning team is the team with the higher reaching red.

The first bar graph represents a talented team competing against a less talented team. Team number one only performed at 75% of its potential. Team number two performed at 100% of its potential. However, since team number one's talent was significantly higher to begin with, they still had a better product on the field, therefore they still won.

The second bar graph represents a talented team competing against a less talented team. Team number one performed at only 50% of its potential while team number two performed at 100% of its potential. Since team number one didn't have enough of a talent advantage to begin with, they got upset by the less talented team with better performance skills.

To win a championship, you have to win this matchup basically every time. In order to do this, you need to have a very high ceiling, meaning you have to have talent. Not only this, but you have to play close to your potential every game, meaning you need to have great performance skills.

No matter how good your performance skills are, if you're not talented enough, you'll eventually lose to a more talented team that also performs well. And even if you're the most talented team, if your performance skills aren't good and you often don't play up to your potential, then you'll eventually get upset by a less talented team with great performance skills. So to win a championship, you need to have the best combination of talent and performance skills.

After knowing this, you then have to ask yourself, "How do I improve my team's talent and performance skills?" The most obvious way to improve your talent is by recruiting better players. If you get the most physically gifted and skilled players, your team's overall talent will be high. 

But good recruiting isn't the only way to improve your team's talent level. You can also develop your players over time. A coach who is great at player-development may only get 1-3 star recruits, but by the time the players are upperclassmen, they may become much improved and be better than the 4 and 5 star players from other teams. These are the two main ways to improve your team's talent: recruiting and player-development.

Now how do you improve your team's performance skills? There are two main ways to do this. One is by improving your player's mental toughness, which is their ability to play with peak performance through stresses. Mental toughness can also be thought of as playing with maximum preparedness, effort, concentration, relaxation, teamwork, and intelligence. If you improve these things, then you improve your team's performance skills.

The second main way to improve your team's performance skills is by improving your in-game coaching and strategy/tactics. It doesn't matter how mentally tough players are if their coaches can't put together a good game plan and make good decisions during games. Better strategy and in-game coaching improve your performance skills.

Put together, the four main factors that influence a team's product on the field are recruiting, player-development, mental toughness, and in-game coaching.

Now that you know this, the next step is to ask, "How do I improve these four things?" This is a much more complicated question since there is so much involved in these four factors. However, you should know that the main things that influence a team's development are the coach's leadership, philosophy, system, and team culture. It is a coach's job to build these things to best develop their team. With these things in place, a coach can better direct his or her effort up this flowchart of how to build a championship team as best as possible. Each step he or she takes will directly improve a team's recruiting, player-development, mental toughness, and in-game coaching, which then improves the team's talent and performance skills, which then improves the team's product on the field, which then helps them win a championship.

As a coach, ask yourself, "What can I be doing right now to improve my leadership/coaching and/or improve my team's recruiting, player-development, mental toughness, and in-game coaching?" Break these factors into smaller and smaller parts to know exactly what you need to do task by task to build a championship team. Create an organized and detailed plan to best develop your team in all four areas.