How to Develop a Championship Level of Discipline

by Brian Cain, MPM

I don’t need to tell you how important discipline is.

But, what a lot of coaches don’t know is that discipline is a muscle that can be trained.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard, “Well, he’s just not disciplined enough.” When really, what should be said is “I don’t know how to help the athletes I coach properly train to develop the skill of discipline.”

The things we do everyday build patterns in our minds.

Practice makes perfect, right? NO!!! Practice makes permanent.  What we do in practice will be what shows up on game day.

Well, then … we better be super aware and intentional of the habits we share by the way we are practicing!


Training. For Discipline. 

The elite college baseball programs who are competing in Omaha practice discipline as a part of their daily training and practice routines.

How do I know?

Because I taught many of them how!

Here is a sample of what I teach:


Rewrite the word discipline to be a positive action.

“Discipline equals freedom.”Navy Seal, Jocko Willink

Chances are (if you coach high schoolers) that your student-athletes have someone in their building who handles the “discipline.” This is the office kids will visit when they are in trouble for making a poor choice.

I wish this office was called the “Lack of Discipline Office”. Because it’s in making those poor choices that the students stepped out of the actions needed to practice discipline and above the line winning behavior.

Remind your athletes that self-control and discipline is a healthy component of excellence and a necessity for achieving elite goals.  

Remind your athletes that they have to be in control of themselves before they can control their performances and that they have very little control of what goes on around them, but total control of how they choose to respond to what goes on around them.

Have them see that being sent to be “disciplined” was because of their lack of self-control and lack of self-discipline and that self-discipline is what will get them the freedom to NOT have to visit that office or to achieve the goals they have set for themselves.


Everyone is capable of a living a more disciplined life.

Discipline is a muscle. 

If you don’t use it, you lose it.

Your athletes are capable of building more arm strength.

Your athletes are capable of building more power, speed and explosiveness.

Your athletes are capable of becoming better teammates.

Therefore … 

Your athletes are capable of building a more defined skill of self-discipline.

Teach them that and model that until they experience it and believe it for themselves.

And run discipline developing drills.

I personally am using the app Habit Share with all of my clients for practicing discipline.  I used to use Way of Life and have since migrated into Habit Share.

Have your athletes download this free app and list out all the actions you want them to take. Actions that will help them reach your team goals.

Then, have them friend you so you can monitor and support their progress.

Check in a few times a week to see their progress.

The best way to practice discipline and build that muscle is to do what you said you were going to do. Habit Share makes it explicit. They can see in green (done) or red (not done) what actions they are taking on any particular day.

And while you’re at it, remind them that there are going to be many days where they don’t feel like doing something. But, discipline is doing it anyway and learning to act differently than how you feel.


Teach them the difference between actions and feelings.

It’s normal to not feel like doing something. 

I don’t feel like getting out of bed 5-7 days a week.

But I do it anyway.

Because I have goals. Lots of them. And I need lots of hours in the day to move the needle forward.

Teach your athletes to say, “I don’t feel like doing this. But I will do it anyway because that’s what champions do and it’s the start that stops most people so let’s get started.”

Actions and decisions are like bricks. What are you and your athletes building?

Want to know more about what I teach to the elite college and high school baseball teams all across the country? Join my email list below and I’ll be sure to send you articles and podcasts about what strategies I am using with the top programs in the nation.