Unfortunately, we all know players who seem to pick and choose when they go hard and when they coast. Their actions frustrate coaches, teammates, and fans to no end. We all recognize what’s happening (and what’s not happening) but until now most of us didn’t know what to call it. Four time Olympian Bo Hansen, a coaching consultant and the director of Athlete Assessments calls this “discretionary effort” and correctly claims that it is often the critical difference between success and failure. Here are his exact words:
“Discretionary effort is the effort which is opted in. Not the effort you have to give, but the effort you choose to give. It is the difference between the effort required to perform to the base level in your role on the team and the effort required to lift your on and off field performance statistics to a higher level.
It is about doing your job to the highest possible level of execution. It is not about going beyond your role and doing everyone else’s job. Commonly we see coaches, fans and all the others mentioned earlier describing how hard someone works because they try to do so much on the field. The issue is that when they do too much and over step their role, they undermine the efforts of others. And team performance suffers.
Players and athletes who give high levels of discretionary effort behave in a way which is always in the team’s best interest. They execute the game plan, they support other team members, they think about how they can add value to others on the team, and they do not lose their composure giving away “silly” penalties.
Additionally, they communicate with the coach and team members, they make adaptations to their own behavior for the team’s benefit and they always have a willingness to operate outside their comfort zone in making changes, doing what the coach suggests with the belief that this will help the team succeed.
Those who display high levels of discretionary effort know that it is not all about them. They honor the game in all that they do.”
If you are a player you should make a commitment right now to always give high levels of discretionary effort and not to settle for anything less from yourself or from your teammates. There are many things in your playing career that you cannot control – this is NOT one of those things! Choose wisely and you won’t regret it!