Last week I introduced the 4 elements that define mental toughness. Today we move on to understanding and developing "Inner Drive".
Players scoring high on inner drive are completely self-motivated individuals in any given situation.
They are on a personal mission to do everything possible to fulfil their potential and find out just how good they can be. They will go the extra mile to ensure they have left no stone unturned in their pursuit of personal excellence. These players always strive to compete with their own taxing standards, as well as with other players and opponents.
Inner drive players will always look to learn from every situation. From a coach's perspective, inner drive players require no cajoling, no motivating and in terms of commitment to the cause, they will be leaders by example.
Australia's ex-captain and legendary batter, Ricky Ponting, epitomised inner drive in everything he did. He was the definition of "leave no stone unturned" in his pursuit of his goals.
When I worked with Ricky at Somerset in 2004 he talked to me about his daily checklist of 10 questions that he would ask himself each night before playing a game of cricket. The points were very simple, very clear and included the following:
- Having an appreciation of the pitch type that he was about to play on (conditions)
- Knowledge of the opposition bowlers
- Am I mentally ready to bat?
- Has my technical preparation gone well?
If there was an unticked checklist point then it focused his mind the following morning. He would work on that particular point ahead of the days play. No Stone unturned.
The All Blacks
James Kerr's brilliant book, Legacy is all about the foundations that underpins the performance of professional sport's most successful team. In it he writes about the All Blacks sweeping the changing rooms, tidying up after themselves after each session and each match.
The All Blacks, despite being World Champions, have the inner drive and humility to undertake the most menial tasks.
"Sweeping the sheds. Doing it Properly. So no one else has to. Because no one looks after the All Blacks. The All Blacks look after themselves" James Kerr – Legacy: 15 Lessons in Leadership
This example of Inner Drive is one piece in the jigsaw that sees the All Blacks consistently pull out match winning performances in the dying minutes of matches.
The All Blacks win 86% of their matches.
Develop responsibility in others to fast track inner drive
The examples above show how the individual or the culture can develop their own inner drive. We as coaches and team mates help accelerate this process.
- Encourage players to have performance diaries to log their successes and analyse their failures so that they learn for the next similar opportunity that comes along.
- Encourage players to "sweep the changing rooms, net area, gym" and be respectful of your environment and the people around you.
- Create leadership opportunities for many. Not just the captain
- Ask someone different to lead a warm up, review a practice session, design a different fielding drill, shine the ball, run a gym session
- The experience will help the player to see the link between responsibility and inner drive. It will help them to see how being deeply involved in a “no stone unturned” approach can develop performance for an individual and a team.
- Measure performance: Beat your personal best, beat your team mate, beat the opposition.
As a coach or captain, we have a wonderful opportunity to develop mental toughness in the people around us. It's a skill that is more transferable into other facets of life than a straight drive or leg cutter, so it's got to be worth developing.