March Madness and The Underdog Phenomenon

How Losing Teams Win

Many people watch March Madness for the big upsets that inevitably happen every year: usually between 16 and 20 out of a total 63 games are upsets. So how do these teams projected to lose, win? We like to call it “The Underdog Phenomenon.”

Countless sports movies have been made where a raggedy, underdog team will suddenly pull together and take a championship, blowing their track record out of the water. The coach is often the protagonist in these movies because they’re responsible for ensuring their team performs to its maximum potential. Leaders in every position, from NCAA coaches to corporate management, must unify goals and enhance the team’s perceptions to push their team to its fullest potential.

Building Passion

Teams start performing when every individual gets passionate about their work. Successful coaches understand what incentivizes their players. Meanwhile successful corporate leaders need to understand what incentivizes their team members. Once a leader has a better understanding of each individual’s goals, they can craft a common goal for the team to work towards. Having a common goal will help unify the team and elevate the level of passion.

The next key to the Underdog Phenomenon is raising the belief level of the team. Players need to believe that if they work together, they can accomplish greater goals. A team’s performance depends on the perception of themselves as a team. That’s why many underdog teams will gain momentum and win more games as their team perception becomes more positive. To enhance the belief level, coaches need to support their team through positivity. Enhancing perceptions through a positive belief system creates a consistent, high-level effort from the team.

To coaches, managers, and leaders alike: the ball is in your court. Regardless of your position as an underdog or a champion, you can always compete with yourself. Enhance your team’s perception and align their goals. Build the passion necessary to stomp your past performance.


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