Coaching coaches: Making your athletes commit

by Dick Moss | March 4, 2013
Dick Moss

Laurentian University track coach Dick Moss (middle) walks with members of his team during a recent meet. PHOTO SUPPLIED

Commitment is one of the keys to success — not just in sport, but in life.

Athletes can have lofty goals, tremendous desire and superior talent, but unless they commit the time and effort to develop that talent, they’ll never optimize their potential.

This goes double for team-sport athletes, because they have to commit to team improvement in addition to their individual improvement. This might require them to make sacrifices for the good of the team.

Commitment Contract

One way to get your athletes to think about the commitment they must make to improve is to have them fill out and sign a commitment contract.

First, ask your squad to think about four things they can do in each practice or competition to prove their commitment to the team, the coach and their individual improvement in the sport. You might even give them overnight to think about this.

Then have them sign a commitment contract, on which they have written down the tasks that will enhance their performance and value to the team.

To truly reinforce these commitment goals, you could make a copy for yourself and pass each athlete’s sheet to every teammate.

Sample Commitment Goals

Sample items might include:
- Verbally support my teammates.
- Stop losing my temper when there’s a bad call.
- Sprint/skate as hard as I can to get back on defence.
- Run in the mornings so I’m more fit.
- Stop missing practices. Arrange my work schedule so I can make every practice.
- Get my homework done in advance, so I don’t have to skip practices to cram for exams.
- Make sure I do all my strength training workouts.
- Start to pass more, instead of always looking for my own shot.


If, once the season begins, you find certain athletes are reneging on the commitments they’ve made — skipping practice, verbally abusing teammates, lagging behind on defence — you can pull their commitment sheet to remind them of the agreement they signed. Remind them that the ideas were their own suggestions for improving both themselves and their team.


Dick Moss has coached for more than 30 years with Sudbury’s Track North Athletic Club and the Laurentian women’s track and cross-country running teams. He is also the editor/publisher of

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