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Team Sports Strategies: Become A Road Warrior part two: 12-15-2011

Become A Road Warrior

Understanding the psychology of winning on the road

By: Jeff Janssen, Janssen Sports Leadership Center

5. Be aggressive.

Look to take it to the home team early  and get the crowd out of the game. Be in an aggressive, attack mode from the start and let everyone know that you came to play. If you can take it to the home team early, they might have a tendency to tense up and panic.

6. Weather the storms.

While starting strong is great, perhaps the biggest key to winning on the road is to successfully weather the storms. Help your players understand that the home team is going to make some good plays and go on runs during the game.  

Remind your players, however, that these moments of success are temporary and it is your job to be patient, work your strategy, and soon you will go on a run of your own. It is all about momentum. Your test is to keep your composure, stay aggressive and in time the momentum will swing back your way again — provided that you keep battling.

7. Enjoy the battle.

Winning on the road depends on your players developing a warrior-like attitude. This means that it doesn’t matter who or where you are playing — that you are going to fight and give your best effort regardless. Successful teams take as much pride in going into enemy territory and coming out with a big win as they do when they are defending their own turf. They love the battle and they especially love shutting up a boisterous crowd that is fervently rooting against them.

8. Create an “us against the world” mentality.

Finally, several teams seem to respond well when you can create an “us against the world” mentality. The adversity of playing on the road can be a unifying force for your team. It causes your players to band together and fight as a team when it seems like the entire world is rooting against them.

As Gene Hackman so perfectly demonstrated in a classic scene from the movie "Hoosiers" when he had his awe-struck players measure the height of the rim before playing on the road in the state championships, the game itself is still the same whether you are at home or on the road.     

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