I am doing a series of blogs on the importance and power of pre-game speeches and well-timed pep talks that can inspire and motivate members of your team to rise to the challenge before them and play up to (or better yet) beyond their potential. 

As an aspiring athlete growing up, I played on many different teams in a wide variety of sports that included four years of playing collegiate soccer at Western Michigan University.  Needless to say, I had the opportunity to hear quite a few inspirational pre-game speeches and pep talks that moved me to give my all on the playing field. 

Years later, I am still a huge fan of listening to great pre-game speeches and well-timed pep talks.  Thanks to YouTube, I can search them out and add them to my playlist.  Now I can watch them over and over again whenever I have the need to motivate myself to continue working to complete projects and goals I have set.  I also share the videos with others to help them to motivate and inspire the people they lead.  

What I have come to learn over the years is that a well-timed and well-delivered pre-game speech or pep talk can have the power to motivate and inspire individuals and teams beyond the world of sports.   They can be used to inspire individuals and teams in our schools, businesses, the military, etc. The reason they are used is that, when done well, they can have a powerful impact on those that hear them.

Today, I want to share a video clip from my all-time favorite sports movie that tells the true story of one of the greatest underdog, winning moments in sports history (this took place way back when I was in HS)!!  The movie is called: Miracle!


It's a modern-day David vs. Goliath story about the U.S.A. collegiate hockey team's amazing run for the gold medal, but more importantly, their major upset over the all-pro Soviet Union team in the semi-final match that shocked the world. 

The most famous and televised quote in that game was when Al Michaels said: "Do you believe in miracles?!!" with only seconds left in that game!  However, I think the most important and powerful quote (that was untelevised) happened in the locker room right before the game when Herb Brooks (coach of the U.S.A. team) declared in his pre-game speech, "Great moments are born out of great opportunities!"

Brooks knowing that his players were aware that most experts were predicting his team to lose to the Soviets, used this pre-game speech to make sure his young players were thinking differently.  Instead of focusing on the "problem" of how they were going to try and skate with them, Herb Brooks decided to do what most successful people and teams do; he had them focus on the positive.  He emphasized the amazing "opportunity" they had earned to try to create such a great moment in Olympic and sports history.

What a great message and lesson for us all to remember:  "Mindsets Matter"

He did this to avoid the risk of allowing any of his players to enter that game with a negative mindset that the problem they were facing was just too big of a challenge for them to overcome.  Herb Brooks used that important moment right before the game to make sure his players were preparing to take the ice with a positive mindset.  He used this key moment to empower his players to focus on the amazing opportunity they had earned to create something really special and to get fired up and go out and make the most of it.

Too often, people tend to adopt a negative mindset and see the challenges they face as obstacles, problems, setbacks, or hurdles that they don't want to deal with.  However, champions tend to approach many of the same challenges with a positive mindset and focus on using them as opportunities to create their own great moments!! 

As individuals, I would encourage you to train yourself to adopt a positive mindset when challenges occur and see them as opportunities to show others what a champion you truly are rather than focusing on them as unwanted problems and setbacks that will hold you back!

For those of you that lead others (in a school, classroom, business, etc.), take time to give a pre-game speech and well-timed pep talks to the members of your team designed to get them to start looking at challenges as opportunities rather than problems ˗ or worse ˗ as an excuse not to perform at their highest level. 

Throughout my teaching career, I used the first 20-30 minutes of the first day of school each year to give my new team of students a motivating pre-game speech. The goal of my pre-game speech was to encourage them to adopt a positive mindset for the upcoming school year (if they hadn't already).  I also used this time to encourage them to take advantage of the many opportunities they would have throughout the school year.  By doing this, they would be able to create many great moments that would help us as a team (and individually) to experience our "Best Year Ever!"  

If you would like to read the actual pre-game speech that I delivered to my team at the very start of each new school year, check out Chapter Seven: "Day One: The Kickoff" in my book, Best Year Ever! Winning Strategies to Thrive In Today's Classroom.

By the way, if you haven't watched the movie (Miracle) you might want to check it out!!  It is awesome!!!  If you do watch it, think of you and your team as being the U.S.A  team and the Soviet team being the current opponent/challenge you are going to defeat!!  Do you believe in miracles?!!  I do!!

U.S.A! U.S.A! U.S.A!