Culture is the expression of ideas, customs, and social behaviour of a particular group. It is widely believed that culture can have a large influence on the performance and functionality of any sports team. Impacting how players work together, behave, feel and communicate on and off the field.
So how can you as a coach help sculpt your team culture? We've highlighted three key areas for you to consider.
Values - what do you want your team to represent?
Values portrays the "principles or standards of behaviour" that are set to drive team standards. Think about what you want your team and players to represent and embody; these may be specific areas you want to invest in and drive towards.
This can include ownership, having your players pride themselves on their performance and taking a no excuses approach. Similarly, instilling work ethic within the team drives standards, ensuring your players are fully committed to give their all during each session and be the best they can be. Some other examples include teamwork, trust, humility and respect.
Attitudes - how do you define your team mentality?
Attitudes are "a feeling or way of thinking that affects a person's behaviour". These are crucial in influencing how players think and feel whenever they turn up to training and invest their time in sport.
As a coach, it is important to form attitudes that allow players to gain a sense of fulfilment and accomplishment. This can be achieved by challenging your players to go out of their comfort zone to seek discomfort; even if mistakes are made these should be seen as a positive rather than frowned upon.
Creating an environment where mistakes are promoted allows players to fully express themselves and play with a level of freedom that helps them flourish. Other examples include focussing on the process over the outcome and adopting a never give up attitude.
Goals - what are you striving to achieve?
Goals present "the object of a person's ambition or effort; an aim or desired result." Goals are crucial for athletes to create something they can drive their efforts towards.
Does your team often struggle when under pressure, fallen a goal behind or things just aren't going your way? Here, an important goal is to respond positively to adversity. Create players that are resilient, look out for each other when things get tough to create a culture of togetherness and willingness to work for one another.
Too often players are pressured into winning as the ultimate aim. Whilst this is important when performing at elite level, coaching younger players and grassroots level is a different ball game. A key goal for many teams is to simply have fun. Taking the pressure away from your players can keep them motivated and allow them to express themselves on the field.
Each team is unique and consists of a variety of personalities, abilities and ages. You should work with your players to create values, attitudes, and goals that best fit your team. A culture driven by the athletes will be much stronger since it will be one they truly believe in.