Describing Discipline and the Myth About It

Hey everybody, this is Sam with National Sports Overtime and we’re continuing our Discipline series today. Last time we talked about obstacles and as I wrote it I realized that we needed to define the word discipline. I told you in the first article E + R= O System that discipline that wasn’t about punishment. It is more like the choices you make as far as to be self disciplined if someone hands you a workout. Are you going to do it? Or are you not going to do it? What I tell players when I talk to them and sometimes even their parents is that every action/decision you make has a consequence. Now that consequence may be positive or it may be negative. 

I know a lot of coaches and other use the science statement that every action has a reaction. I don’t think that players really understand this concept because when you say a reaction…they are looking for your reaction on your face. Players don’t understand that a reaction could be that they don’t get playing time or get to start or anything like that. So I carefully chose that every decision or every action you make has a positive or negative consequences. You have to have a conversation with your team or work group that you know consequences has a bad connotation where you are thinking punishment. You don’t want them seeing the word discipline as bad. Eventually I want them to see being disciplined as good thing. One of the talks I used to do at camps or meetings with other teams was the 3D’s…Determination, Discipline and Dedication. So discipline (not as punishment) has been something I’ve talked about for a while.

I Don’t Have Any Discipline

Today, I hear so many adults say I don’t have any discipline or I’m just not disciplined enough to do that. With adults, a lot of times they are talking about diets, working out or time management. Now, am I the most disciplined person depends on what you are talking about. If you are talking about watching a certain series on TV then yeah, I can probably be the most disciplined person you have ever met. If you are talking about when I was a player and going to the gym to put up shots. I wasn’t so much. Like everyone else, things I don’t really want to do or that I don’t enjoy doing then I’m not as disciplined as I should be. So with players, they want to make that winning buzzer shot, or that big outstanding block that will be on TV. However, if you are a basketball then you have to come in every day in the summer to shoot game shots in game spots and game speed. As adults whether you are a parent, a member of the community, a teacher, a role model or a coach if you are always saying I don’t have any discipline then you are rubbing that attitude off on others especially kids that look up to you. So you need to eliminate that from out language so we eliminate it from theirs.

When you say you don’t have any discipline then what you are really doing is separating yourself from your choices. You are putting the responsibility of something you don’t want to do somewhere else. It’s those BCDs (Blaming, Complaining and Defensiveness) that we talk about earlier. We want to blame something else. So that is exactly what we are doing when we say I don’t have any discipline because of my kids, job, or other family. You are looking to blame someone else. It is your choice and you don’t want to take accountability or responsibility for that. We’ll get mad at players who are playing video games in the air conditioning for 12–15 hours. So they’re supposed to be at open field or open gym at 8:00am in June, but in the middle of August they need to be somewhere at 8pm, so they look at us and say I don’t really want to go. It’s really hot and I would rather play video games. They are saying the same thing you are. You see your kids or your players as what they are saying. It is an excuse. They are blaming something else other than themselves. Instead of putting the responsibility and accountability on themselves they want to blame something. It’s the same thing adults do. 

What is Discipline?

What you need to remember when you are talking to a player is the reality is that discipline isn’t a possession. It’s not something that you can own or have. Saying I don’t have any discipline doesn’t make any sense because it is not something tangible. It’s not something you can hold in your hand. It’s not a possession. Discipline is something you do. You either do it or you don’t do it. You know why because it is a choice. You choose whether to do it. 

Different Types of Injured Players

When I see injured players, I know there are three types of injured players. There’s the injured player that wants to make excuses and get others to feel sorry for them. They are the “oh poor me” players or “this wasn’t my fault. They chopped blocked me in football causing my ACL to tear.” So this type of player after a couple weeks has their brace on and it’s still straight. There’s no bending in it because they haven’t been working. They haven’t been doing ice and heat rotations. They’ve gotten into a sedentary lifestyle and they aren’t moving their toes or pushing their toes towards the floor. You can talk to them until you are blue in the face, but they have to make the CHOICE to work on their injury. Sometimes they will do it while you are around, but if you aren’t there then they aren’t going to do it. They may tell you they forget to do it. Really?!?!?! You seriously forget that you have a big huge brace on your knee and forget the pain that you go through when you move the wrong way? Really? I don’t think so. You can tell them what to do. You have to talk to them mentally because this is an obstacle or hump that they have to go over before they can even start anything for their injury. They have to overcome their thoughts.

Any injured players have to be disciplined in order to come back at all, let alone come back quickly. You have to mentally check on them. They need to feel secure with you or their place on the team. You need to see what they are discipline wise. There’s a lot more to coming back from an injury just like there’s a lot to learning a new skill. Then you will have the injured player that is doing exactly what they need to do that is written down by the doctor or trainer. They do everything to the tee. Yes, someone may need to remind them occasionally, or they put up signs around their home about different things to do or they set alarms to do each thing on their phone as a reminder. You still need to process with them their mental levels. We have so long ignored this side of our athletes, but we can’t anymore. 

Then you have the third kind of injured player. The one that thinks by working double or triple then they will be back even faster. So they may be on week 12 of a 32 week or 36 week program to get them back. These injured players think if they gave me this exercise to do twice a day. So I’m going to do it four times a day that way instead of it being an 8–9 month rehab they think it will be a 6 month rehab to be back faster. What they don’t realize is a twice a day is what their body can stand at that particular moment in time in rehab. They want to be overly disciplined and do it four times a day. Well in the early weeks of coming back from an injury if you push it too fast and you hear a lot about it with professional athletes. They push it too much, too fast and too long. So they reinjure themselves or they injure another body part because they compensate with another body part in order to do a certain exercise that many times. So you are supposed to be doing an exercise twice a day to get your knee back, but you decide to do it four times a day and your injure another part of your body. The athlete didn’t realize that it could mean they are out longer instead of faster like they wanted.

Discipline is a CHOICE

Many people don’t understand that discipline isn’t permanent and it can’t be established. I think many parents want to establish discipline in their kids, but they don’t get that it is a choice. It’s an option. Discipline can change at any moment. The player is choosing discipline and to do what they are supposed to be doing. You need to get yourself and your players to start saying I didn’t choose to be disciplined. I didn’t choose to do the workout. I didn’t choose to do whatever you told me to do. So I think if you can get your players or yourself in a different mindset then you will see a big improvement.

You can always write me at or @NatSportsOT on Twitter. I look forward to hearing from you. What do you think of the articles in this series? What do you think I’m missing? What do you want to hear more about? Of course, you can listen to National Sports Overtime podcast on all major platforms. I’ll talk to you soon and hopefully, I’ll see you somewhere down the road.

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