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Succeeding In Sports with DISC

Ryan Piraneo

By: Ryan Piraneo

Competing through sports is something that we all have done at one point or another in our lives. Did you know that your behaviors on the field, court or ice affect your teammates and how you work together? Using the DISC behavior language, we can see how each of the four styles are important to teams and how each one brings a certain element towards success. It is important to note that there is no best or worst behavioral style to be. They all bring their own strengths and weaknesses.


D – Dominant, In Your Face, Fearless

The Good: In sports these are arguably the easiest to spot, they are the ones that will do anything they can to win. They greet challenges with a smile and more often than not are the last ones standing at the end of the day. The High-D athlete is a leader by example; when the going gets tough they are the ones to take the lead and put the weight on their shoulders. The emotion of the D-factor athlete is anger; they can go from lamb to lion in an instant and once they do; look out.

The Bad: High-Ds can come off too aggressive, too competitive and can take too many risks. They have to be aware that not all of their teammates have the same mentality of approaching a challenge. Their “in your face” style can be a major turn off to teammates and lead to confrontation.


Muhammad Ali – Ali is the poster boy for the D-factor. He once said, “I’m not the greatest; I’m the double greatest. Not only do I knock ‘em out, I pick the round”. No opponent intimidated Ali.

Serena Williams – Watch Serena lose a point to an opponent and you’ll see the fire in her eyes that tell you she’s about to unleash fury.

Michael Jordan – His Airness. Jordan is so competitive that even in his 50’s there are videos of him playing 1 on 1 against the current NBA elite. Of course, MJ is giving them everything he’s got.


I – Influencing, Inspiring, Enthusiastic

The Good: Whereas the High-D athletes are leaders on the playing surface, the High-I athlete is the locker-room leader. Expect these people to be the ones who give that amazing speech right as the game seems out of reach. The High-I’s are always optimistic and team-focused. They are very social and likeable; making them very popular and the ones teammates will do anything for. The emotion of I-factor players is trust; they are willing to trust people at first glance and want to bring out the good in others.

The Bad: They often can get too focused on their social status and lose track of the task at hand. They’re often the ones who are jokesters in the locker room, keeping the air light and can get distracted from working.


Derek Jeter – How could you not like Jeter? He always said the right things after games, always had a smile on his face, and most importantly he always focused on the team’s accomplishments before his own.           

Arnold Palmer – His ability to make even his competitors his friends is the stuff of legend.

Stephen Curry – Selfless, enthusiastic and charming. Curry’s optimism and poise as a leader inspired the rest of his team to win an NBA championship.


S – Steady, Systematic, Team Player

The Good: Once you win over the High-S, they will be loyal to you and willing to do whatever it takes to help get the job done. They are dependable and when they know their role on a team, they like to stick to that and not deviate from it. The emotion of a High-S is non-emotion; they come off calm, cool and collected. It could be overtime of game 7 or pre-season training and you won’t be able to tell the difference on their expression.

The Bad: It’s hard for someone who is a High-S to be quick to change and they enjoy stability. Confrontation is also something they avoid which makes them appear as quiet. They will have ideas and comments, but because they are introverted in nature, will keep it to themselves instead of speaking up.


Jonathan Toews – The captain of the NHL’s Chicago Blackhawks is a good example of the High-S. His game is consistent; he doesn’t often show emotions and is a true team player.

Bill Belichick – Want non-emotion? The Wall Street Journal once kept track of how many times the Patriots coach smiled in an entire season. The answer: 7. How’s that for non-emotion?


C – Concise, Perfectionist, Analytical

The Good: You’ll be hard pressed to find many High-C athletes but they do exist. They are usually found participating in individual sports like golf, tennis or many of the Olympic sports. They are very particular on their actions and strive for perfection. One missed swing of the golf club, one slip up on the balance beam and they’re upset. The emotion of a High-C is fear; they go by the books and take very few risks.

The Bad: They are often their biggest critics. They know when they did something wrong even if we didn’t catch it. Their desire to be perfect can psych them out and cause them to fail.


Jack Nicklaus – He perfected his swing and the only thing he changed was the club he used. He studied every shot and knew exactly which club was required to hit it just right.