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A Leader In Every Sense Of The Word

A group of men

Mike Gittleson was the Director of Strength & Conditioning at the University of Michigan for 30 years and was a part of 15 Football Championships in that time.  He explains the keys to leadership.

People want to get the most and pay the least for their choices.  To be a Champion requires a payment that is often more than we want to easily give.

Fielding H Yost became the head football coach of The University of Michigan in 1901 and finished with a 169-29-10 record, said this:

A man holding a football

“Second only to the judicious selection and thorough training of a football team is the acquisition of a capable captain…” “No player should be selected to act as captain who is not a leader in every sense of the word.”

The hallmark of a Championship program is Leadership.  When I coached, though the team elected Captains, all seniors were considered to be the leaders …in every sense of the word.

Players who became seniors often asked me how to be a leader in the off-season.  This is a logical question after all they were going to spend a great deal of their time as a team in the winter and summer weight lifting and running.  Having a new role as a senior leader when not competing in your sport, what do you do, how do you lead?

hammerThere are three categories of action a leader should fulfill… Influencing, Operating and Improving.


Everything a senior does should elicit a positive effect on the behaviors, actions and even the opinions of others.  The training principles for success have been presented by the program and if followed with enthusiasm and energy by everyone on and off the field team goals can be met.


The Leader must follow team rules, be on time, always there, always ready to go, always determined, always tremendous effort, always eager, and encourages others to do so as well.


You must improve yourself and as a group.  When you improve, as you influence and operate the group improves.

Each one of these terms, influence. operating and improving can be discussed at length and should be with each senior.  Having each leader start with some simple direction is the first step toward winning a Championship and Getting Strong.

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