Swimming World will publish a collection of coaching perspectives written by Alabama head swimming coach Dennis Pursley. This is the 11th installment of a series that will be rolled out throughout the coming months.
Why is it that most champions will usually accept full responsibility for their unsuccessful performances, while some others will typically play the blame game when they don’t succeed?
To some extent, I believe that this is related to our natural inclinations and to who we are as athletes and as people. The willingness to accept accountability is not an insignificant attribute of a champion—it is an attribute that contributes to successful performances.
If we are inclined to make excuses for unsuccessful performances, we are, in effect, relinquishing control of those performances. The underlying message is that the obstacles to success cannot be overcome and that we are unable to perform successfully in less than ideal circumstances.
Conversely, those who accept responsibility and accountability for their own performances are in control or their own destiny. They are confident that they will succeed whether it is because of or in spite of the circumstances. Circumstances that they cannot control will not diminish their confidence or distract their focus. They believe that it is within their capabilities to overcome the barriers that stand in the way of success.
Many of the most impressive and inspirational performances in the history of sport have been achieved under the worst of circumstances. Champions will respond to a greater challenge with greater determination. Adversity will bring the best out of them. Rarely will they fall short of expectations, but when they do, they will offer “no excuses.”
About Dennis Pursley
After getting his start as a volunteer coach on Don Gambril’s first Alabama staff, current Alabama head coach Dennis Pursley has gone on to one of the most extraordinary careers in the sport of swimming, a career that led him to be named one of the 25 most influential people in the history of USA Swimming in 2003.
Pursley has helmed coaching staffs throughout the world, including stops as the first head coach of the Australian Institute of Sport, the inaugural director of the United States National Team and most recently the head coach of Great Britain’s 2012 Olympic squad. Pursley returned to the deck in 2003 as the head coach of the Brophy East Swim Team in Phoenix Ariz., before becoming the head coach of British Swimming in 2008.
Pursley and his wife Mary Jo have five children, Lisa, Brian, David, Steven and J.J. Lisa and David have joined him on the Alabama staff.