Keep Motivation High During a Losing Season

When you are part of turning around a program or having one of those inevitable down years, sustaining motivation and a positive attitude can be a challenge. Former three time Super Bowl Champion coach Bill Walsh offered these 10 reminders to keep yourself focused and team motivation high during a losing or sub par year.

1) Concentrate on what will produce results rather than on the results themselves: the process rather than the prize of winning.

2) Exhibit an inner toughness emanating from four of the most effective survival tools a leader can possess: expertise, composure, patience, and common sense.

3) Don’t isolate yourself. Keep in mind when troubles mount your relationships with personnel become even more critical.

4) Don’t let the magnitude of the challenge take you away from the incremental steps necessary to effect change.

5) Exude an upbeat and determined attitude. Never, ever express doubt, but avoid an overly sunny disposition in the dark times.

6) Hold staff meetings to educate them on what to expect; tell them things may stay rough in the short term, but that things will change with their support.

7) Don’t label some concept or new game plan the thing that will “get us back on track.” Simple remedies seldom solve complex problems.

8) Stay courteous and respectful to all members of your organization. Tempers can flare during a losing season and when things are tough, civility is a great asset.

9) Don’t plead with players to “do better.” Periodically ask, “Is this the best you can do?”

10) Avoid ongoing threats to players.

Excerpted from the book Championship Performance Coaching Volume 1: Legendary Coaching Wisdom on Leadership, Motivation and Practice Plans to Achieve Your Dream Season. To order or get free chapters, visit,