There is No “I” in Team: Ingraining the Culture of Winning

By Professor Marco Perazzo

There is a single trait that you can see in top level competitors, the ones who are consistently at the top of the  podium getting the gold. They have a look in their eyes, a single intention, winning. But also, aside from talent,  sheer determination and that thing in their eye, you can see that they understand and are surrounded by a culture of winning. The bottom line is that coaches, training partners and fellow competition team members are working towards that singular goal,  winning and it’s culture does not accept anything less than the wanting to be a champion with the gold medal around their neck or title belt around their waist. This culture and surrounding success is what separates the great teams and athletes  from the also rans. This mindset and culture can’t be just competitor driven, but has to be a top down mentality.

From Top To Bottom

Competitors shouldn’t and can’t accept coaches that do not have an innate desire for victory. A coach can never want to win more than their student. But instead, the the coach and athlete should be on the same page in terms of determination, preparation, sacrifice and their desire for victory. Practices, drilling, training, learning and ultimately competing should be a top down culture. Very few if any of the current list of BJJ World Champions, ADCC Champions or UFC titlists come from weak teams with less than involved coaches. Let’s look into some of them. Atos team is no stranger to winning medals from Mendes Brothers to Andre Galvao. On the other hand, Fabio Gurgel created a great number of Alliance competitors including Marcelo Garcia and Cobrinha who are considered among the pound for pound bests. As for MMA teams, we have AKA producing champions like Daniel Cormier and Cain Velasquez. Lets go old school and think about the leadership of Carlson Gracie who produced some legends in both BJJ and MMA, Mario Sperry and Murillo Bustamante to name a few. A team its leaders and athletes should look to the history of its sport to seek the formula for laying a foundation of success.

Importance of Team Spirit

If you look into these teams, you will notice that they have established a family atmosphere. More than any type of bond, they treat each other like brothers. Its in the pits of the hardest most intense training that you will push a brother harder than you would just some guy who has hopped from team to team, from culture to culture simply looking to fulfill a misguided idea what the latest and the greatest might be. Brothers may not always agree, understand or even like each other, but the bond of brotherhood is stronger and more important than short sighted self serving goals.  Your brothers goals become your goals, what is good for the individual is good for the team. Your brother wins and you win. Its that simple.

A coach should oversee most if not all aspects of the competitors training. Athletes should just be able to show up for practice and trust that their coach has a plan for their victory. More than just guiding them in drilling and in sparring, there should be a long term and a short term goals. These goals should be clear and laid out for the whole team to be able to understand. Having these goals is an important aspect of reaching success. Also coaches need to be able, like in any good family act like a parent, give harsh criticism when necessary, compliment when appropriate and motivate through the tough times. Each has to be used judiciously, as too much of any of your coaching/parenting can become white noise.

Each member of the team should be able to give a helping hand, not everyone on the mats is going to be a world champion or even want to be bothered with competing. But if the culture is right and the need is there everyone is part of the competition team. What this means is that even the 40 year old father of 3 purple belt will go to war with his brother because he knows his brothers goal and chance at victory are hanging on every single training session. That older brother so to speak will sacrifice his own personal training because of his brothers and the teams goals. Its how champions are built. Everyone sacrifices. Even when it might be more convenient to do other things or train other places, sacrifice is part of becoming a man and men typically fare better in combat than boys.

You must have heard before that there is no “I” in team. Yes, no matter how you look at it, you need team mates and coaches in order to become a champion. In any sport whatsoever, there will always be an unsung hero who is on the sidelines. In BJJ and in MMA, this is still the case. Whether it’s Greg Jackson’s team or Julio Cesar’s GFT, they all have one commonality and that is one aspiration to produce only the best and outperform their opponents.

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