Updated: Feb 27
Wayne Bennett is the most successful coach to ever have stepped onto a rugby league field. He holds the record for the most grand final wins in Australian rugby league.
Bennett’s insights describe what he believes to make a great player and a great team. Here are his top 5 tips that drive his teams to greatness:
1. Give your best effort
At the end of the day, our biggest opponent is ourselves. Winning or losing is an outcome that is largely out of our control. Yes, we can control how disciplined we are each day in the lead up to a competition. But when we step onto the field, we have little control over how good our opponent is going to be on that day. Therefore, it’s not the winning that is as important as the process of giving your best effort.
What would you rather, to win and put in 0% effort, or to lose and put in 100% of your effort? Bennett would rather lose. “Don’t go through life, whether it be relationships, sport - life - sitting down at the end and saying it could have been better.”
2. Be a pig, not a hen
Ever eaten ham and eggs for breakfast? Bennett uses the breakfast as a metaphor: “The hen is involved but the pig is committed”. Commitment is the first thing that Bennett will look for in an athlete.
Often, uncommitted athletes will think they are making the rational decision of quitting because they can’t see what is on the other side of the hill, like Burke and Wills who died of dehydration when they were only one more hill away from water. “Success can often be just around the corner, if we just persevere.”
3. Create the habit of winning
Winners are not born, they are made. Winners don’t make excuses or blame others. Instead, winners take responsibility for their mistakes so that they can learn from them and improve.
Winning starts in training, not in competition. Furthermore, winning starts in who we listen to and who we surround ourselves with. If we can surround ourselves with the right people, those who are succeeding or have already succeeded, we will develop winning habits without even realising it. Setting goals will help athletes to know where they are going and what they have to do to achieve success.
4. Sacrifice for the team
“A champion team beats a team full of champions”. Individual sacrifice is extremely important in a team because never will everyone agree on the same thing. “When no one cares about who gets the credit, it’s amazing what can be accomplished.”
When a teammate falls down, pick them up. When you lose a game stay positive. And accept that “you [might] have to play your part more times than most, even when you might not like the role you have to play.” Only when the team achieves a high degree of selflessness, the soul of teamwork in Bennett's opinion, will a team be great.
5. Overcome yourself
In many ways, the person that holds us back from success is ourselves. Nearly all of our greatest achievements come from challenges that make us feel like quitting. Don’t give up. Don’t stop learning. Lose without excuse. Commit to the process. Give your best effort. Only then can you look back at both your sporting and personal life with no regrets.