How Player Leadership Helped the Cubs Prevail

I loved the stories surrounding the 2016 World Series!

So much drama with the Cubs and Indians trying to avoid going yet another year without a championship.

One of my favorite stories happened during the rain delay after the 9th inning in Game 7.

The Cubs were dejected and shaken after blowing a three run lead.

You likely heard about the the impromptu meeting during that 17-minute rain delay that changed the Cubs’ mindset and—many believe—enabled them to produce the two runs that led them to victory in the 10th inning.

A few quick reasons why I love that story:

Player led.

One might expect a coach to get the team together at a time like that, but Manager Joe Madden didn’t even realize the meeting was happening until he saw the players gathering in the little room below the dugout. Busy checking out the weather reports, Maddon didn’t even join them.

I’d much rather the peers carry my message. —Joe Maddon

And that’s exactly what happened.

Jason Heyward got the team together without consulting Coach Maddon.

Players who feel empowered to lead are a sign of a healthy team culture. —Tweet That!

But it’s not going to happen in a crucial moment like that if trust hasn’t been cultivated all season long.


Regardless of performance.

Heyward struggled during the Series, with just 3 singles in 20 at-bats.

Sometimes poor performance inhibits a player from stepping up to lead, as if they don’t have the “right” to speak up if they aren’t contributing on the field.

Strong is the athlete who is secure enough in her role that performance or playing time doesn’t get in the way of taking hold of opportunities to lead.


The message.

Heyward reminded the team who they were—in moments when the wheels are falling off, it’s so key to go back to your identity.

He reminded them what they had overcome to get there—this inspired hope and a “no-quit” mentality as they remembered all the times they made it through adverse situations in the past.

He told the he loved them—so powerful. Remembering that no matter how things turn out, the love of the brotherhood (or sisterhood) remains, helps athletes to relax.


Every coach wants player leadership.

But it doesn’t just happen.

To help your players prepare for their one shining moment:

  • communicate your messages to team leaders over and over and over again
  • help them overcome any obstacles to buying in to those messages
  • give them a voice and opportunities to use it

Then trust that when they notice a need for leadership, they will step up to the plate (pun intended)!


How Player Leadership Helped the Cubs Prevail appeared first on Life Beyond Sport.