Tuesday, 23 Jul 2024

We May Win and We May Lose: Embracing the Power of Hustle

In the world of team sports, the outcome is often beyond an individual’s control. You can give it your all, perform your best, and still come up short. But one thing you always have control over is your hustle. The power of hustle can make up for mistakes, amplify your performance, and set you apart as a player.

Last week, I witnessed my son, Cody, embody the essence of hustle during the first Princeton victory over Penn State in 36 meetings. It was a moment that filled me with pride and reinforced the importance of relentless pursuit on and off the court.

The Importance of Team Sport

When you choose to participate in a team sport, you become part of a collective effort. As Cody demonstrated, individual brilliance alone cannot guarantee success. Volleyball is a prime example of a sport where teamwork and synergy are essential. The Princeton Tigers’ victory against Penn State was a testament to the strength of their collective play.

The Hustle Factor

Hustle is not just about physical effort; it’s an attitude and a mindset. It’s about going the extra mile, putting in the extra effort, and never giving up. One of my core coaching philosophies is that hustle beats talent when talent doesn’t hustle. It’s a message I instill in my players to remind them that their work ethic can be the difference-maker in any game.

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Recognizing and Celebrating Hustle

As a coach, I believe in recognizing and celebrating moments of exceptional hustle. Whether it’s during practice or a game, when a player goes above and beyond, they deserve acknowledgment. I carry a roll of 2″ wide painters tape with me, and at pivotal moments, I mark the spot where a player’s hustle stood out. The tape serves as a visual reminder of their commitment and dedication.

Another method I’ve employed is awarding “Glow in the Dark Stars.” These small plastic stars with handwritten notes are given to players who have shown outstanding effort, leadership, or improvement. They serve as a lasting memento, reminding players of their achievements and encouraging them to continue striving for greatness.

The Boundless Court

In volleyball, once the ball is served, the court expands into the whole world. Players are not confined by the boundaries; they have the freedom to chase down every ball and leave it all on the court. This unlimited playing space represents the endless possibilities and opportunities that come with dedication and hustle.

The Character-Building Aspect

Hustle goes beyond the game; it shapes character and leadership qualities. When players consistently put in the effort and seek ways to improve, they develop a growth mindset that extends beyond sports. It’s about fostering a lifelong love for learning and embracing challenges as opportunities for growth.

Embracing Theodore Roosevelt’s Words

In the face of doubt and criticism, it’s crucial to stay true to oneself and remain focused on hustle and effort. As Theodore Roosevelt eloquently put it, it is not the critic who counts, but the person who is in the arena, giving their all. Success may not always be guaranteed, but the triumph lies in daring greatly and striving for excellence.

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Q: How does hustle contribute to the success of a team?
A: Hustle plays a vital role in a team’s success as it not only makes up for mistakes but also sets the tone for the entire team. When each player gives their best effort and relentlessly pursues every opportunity, it creates a positive and driven environment that fuels success.

Q: How can hustle be cultivated in athletes?
A: Hustle can be cultivated by instilling a growth mindset and emphasizing the importance of hard work and dedication. Recognizing and celebrating exceptional hustle moments can also motivate players to consistently give their best effort.


Hustle is the driving force behind success in team sports. While victory may not always be guaranteed, it’s the collective effort, determination, and relentless pursuit of excellence that set great teams and individuals apart. The power of hustle goes beyond the court, shaping character and fostering a lifelong love for learning and self-improvement. Embrace hustle, strive for greatness, and leave a lasting impact on and off the field.