Leadership is a coveted quality among coaches, strength coaches and recruiters. However, not all of us are born with obvious leadership qualities. Maybe you are a bit of an introvert and prefer others to take the lead. Or maybe it's just not in you to be the person who gets the team pumped up.
But that doesn't mean you can't be a leader. There are many things you can do to stand out from the pack, help your team and get noticed for your hard work, dedication and leadership role.
You don't have to be a team captain, manager or coach to be a leader. Setting a good example wherever you are can indirectly motivate and inspire teammates on or off the field. Here are some of the best ways to lead by example:
- Demonstrating Reliability. Consistently being on time for classes, practices, games, team workouts, and a job, for instance, exemplifies dependability.
- Making Healthier Meal and Beverage Choices. Dining with your peers in the school cafeteria or a restaurant? Lead by example by selecting healthier foods and beverages promoting sports and exercise recovery and boosting the immune system (e.g., anti-inflammatory and antioxidant-rich fruits, veggies and salads; lean meat; broiled or roasted chicken; baked or broiled fish; baked potatoes or yams; and eggs, beans, water, milk, green or black tea instead of burgers, hot dogs, fries and soda).
- Get Eight and Feel Great the Next Day. Impress upon your peers the importance of regularly getting at least eight hours of nightly sleep for optimizing mental and physical performance, building muscle, losing fat and speeding recovery from exercise and sports activities. Less sleep saps energy and reduces alertness, resulting in mistakes on school exams and in sports; makes you irritable; and lowers your resistance to disease, causing missed classes, practices, games and workouts!
- Exemplifying Consideration and Courtesy. Putting selfish behavior behind and placing the needs of others first puts you in the forefront as a caring individual. Courteous acts include wiping down exercise mats or machines after using them; interrupting your workout to spot another lifter with Bench Presses or Barbell Squats; spending extra time showing someone proper exercise technique; helping a teammate hone a sports skill; and offering to tutor another student having difficulty with a particular subject.
- Going the Extra Yard. Coaches and teammates admire running backs and receivers who stay on their feet and persist to gain more yardage when they appeared to be stopped. Examples of continually going forward establishes positive character traits: Devoting extra time in the weight room and after practices to improve endurance, size, flexibility, power or other sports attributes and sport-specific skills; volunteering to pick up equipment after practices and games; and spending more time studying to ace a course.
- Taking Three Daily "Time Outs." Time-outs during games help teams make adjustments, regroup, strategize, rest and focus. For busy athletes or non-athletes, juggling academics, exercise, sports, and or/other extra-curricular and job responsibilities each day definitely calls for "time-outs" to regroup and refocus as well. Incorporate three "time-outs" every day to effectively manage stress and improve mental and physical performance. Choose from these examples: Take a 10-minute power nap to re-energize; do a 5- or 10-minute stretching routine that includes upper- and lower-body static stretches (hold each stretch 10 seconds) to relieve physical and mental tension; go outdoors and take a 10-minute invigorating brisk walk; spend 10 minutes relaxing and listening to your favorite music; use a foam roller for 5 or 10 minutes to loosen tight muscles.