This past weekend, I witnessed one of those sporting events that they make heart-swelling, tear-jerking inspirational movies about. Well, almost. My daughter competed in a basketball game with her college club team. What is so unusual about her team is that it’s self-coached. And even though they were up against a team that had three coaches (that’s right, three), my daughter’s team blew them away.

The game itself was fun. I love to see my daughter play. What really caught my attention, however, was the body language of both benches. My daughter’s team was loose, smiling, joking and very relaxed. They used their own system of substitutions and time-outs with ease.

The other bench looked completely unhappy. The girls had minimal interaction with one another. They stared straight ahead—not acknowledging their teammates and waiting to be summoned by their coaches. It was if they'd handed away their will and were waiting to get it back with a nod from a coach.

As we all know, the goal of a basketball game is pretty simple: Put the ball in the basket. Score more points then the other team. Win the game. But there are plenty of daily activities where the goal is simple yet the win is hard to achieve. How many of us have started a diet plan only to bail on it by dinner? Or begun an exercise program only to give it up after two workouts? My daughter’s self-coached and self-motivated team tapped into some secrets to success. Here’s what I think a few of them are.

1. Learn to Coach Yourself. Simply put, look at your past successes (and failures) to figure out what it takes for you to thrive. Know what you need to do and give it your all.

2. Offer Support. I observed an obvious willingness of players on my daughter’s team to sacrifice individually and encourage one another. Trust that the process of giving to and bolstering others will make you all winners.

3.Lean In. Be willing to step up to a challenge, take a chance, try or just try out (for a team).

4. Lean On. Surround yourself with like-minded indivuduals. The girls in my daughter’s group chose teammates who would be team players: unselfish, productive and willing to make others better. With that winning formula, you just can’t lose.

What lessons have you learned from watching your kids play sports? Post a comment and share them with me.

Janet Taylor, M.D., M.P.H., is a mother of four, a psychiatrist in New York City and director of guest support for The Jeremy Kyle Show. Follow her on Twitter @drjanet.

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