How Nick Saban Motivates and Inspires Champions

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Nick Saban is the Head Coach of arguably one of the best college football programs of all time, the Alabama Crimson Tide.

Whether you are a fan or not, you’d be lying if you said that what he has accomplished for the program isn’t impressive. One of the ways that he has been able to achieve this level of success is how well he is able to motivate his team and get them to buy into his “process.”

So what exactly does Coach Saban say and do to motivate his players year in and year out?

Be a champion in everything you do.

I think that everybody should take the attitude that we’re working to be a champion, that we want to be a champion in everything that we do. Every choice, every decision, everything that we do every day, we want to be a champion. - Nick Saban

Saban wants to instill in his players that no matter how small or big they think a task is, they must do it as though they are going to be the best. This includes the very smallest tasks to the big life-changing ones.

The reason being a champion at “doing the laundry” is so important, is that life-changing moments don’t come everyday— you might only get those moments once every few years. But when those moments do come, he wants them to be in the habit of having that champion mindset. That mindset comes from those little daily victories.

Invest in yourself.

I ask our players to invest in themselves. It’s a different approach but it’s a way for people to be all they can be and can benefit them in the future.”- Nick Saban

When Nick tells his players to invest in themselves he is getting them to buy into the fact that what they are doing is going to benefit them on and off the field.

They know that they can’t play football for the rest of their lives. What they do know is that if they take the time to invest in themselves, using their time at Alabama to learn all they can from their coaches and teammates, it will undoubtedly make them a better father, son, brother, student, or worker off the field and will ultimately benefit their entire lives.

Hang with the right crowd.

Mediocore people don’t like high achievers and high achievers don’t like mediocre people. - Nick Saban

Saban wants his players to be surrounded by people who have something to teach them. He is big on always being open and eager to learn.

There are many people who are willing to share their knowledge and connect them with others that have a lot to offer. Not only does this help them build their network, something that is crucial to success, but it is also incredibly important for them to be surrounded by positive influences. If they are around high achievers, their attitudes will typically motivate them to do the same.

Don't be trapped by your failure or your success.

Are you going to focus on what you did or what you are going to do? - Nick Saban

When things don’t go as planned, I usually look ahead for the next step. But when things are going good, I tend to enjoy the moment’s success and can lose focus on what I was doing that caused the success in the first place.

This is how Saban is able to produce championship quality teams year in and year out. He teaches them never to focus on the outcome, but only the processes that will get them there.

Don't settle for average

“It’s not human nature to be great. It’s human nature to survive, to be average and do what you have to do to get by. That is normal. When you have something good happen, it’s the special people that can stay focused and keep paying attention to detail, working to get better and not being satisfied with what they have accomplished.” – Nick Saban

Saban understands that it is engrained in each and every one of us to take the minimal risks necessary in life. Being average only occurs because you chose to put in the minimum amount of effort required to get by. He teaches his players to keep working past that point, past the natural instinct of minimum effort. Therefore, mediocrity is a choice—the same way that excellence is.

If you want to achieve your goal, don't focus on it.

“The more one emphasizes winning, the less he or she is able to concentrate on what actually causes success.” – Nick Saban

Goals are important, but they are outside of our control. Even though it sounds contradictory, the only way we can achieve any goal is NOT to focus on it.

Instead, we need to focus only on the aspects that we can control. You have to keep your eye on the building blocks that will bring you towards your goals. These little behaviors and attitudes are what will bring you to the top.


I think it’s safe to say we can all learn a little something from Coach Saban. Whether you are an athlete, parent, teacher, coach, or any type of professional, his lessons can be applied to your life.

Be a champion even in the small things. Invest in your future and surround yourself with positive influences. Don’t ever let your past or present failure or success keep you stuck. NEVER settle for average and always focus on what achieves your goal, not the goal itself.

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