We often hear about the word ‘culture’ or ‘culture change’ or ‘culture building.’ It’s important. In fact – very important.
With that said,as coaches, we talk a lot about the word ‘culture’ or ‘changing the culture,’ but we don’t really talk to our teams about how to do it. What it comes down to is the behaviors and habits that your team encompasses.
Whether you find yourself at a new program that has a tradition of a losing culture, or you’ve been a part of a program for awhile that you know needs a change, you can probably trace a lot of a toxic culture back to the behaviors players within the culture had. Behavior is what drives results. For example, these are behaviors that a lot of losing teams and cultures encompass:
- Only going hard sometimes in practice
- Getting minimal sleep before gameday
- Eating bad foods throughout the week
- Going out and partying on the weekends
- Not focusing on the coach’s message
- Not putting in extra work in the offseason
- Skipping offseason workouts
- Not going hard when the coach isn’t watching
- Coaches not holding players accountable
- Coaches don’t prepare practice plans
- Individuals only caring about their personal stats
- Players not able to put differences with teammates aside
We could go on and on about losing behaviors. But think about losing cultures you’ve been around: did they encompass some of the behaviors above? You can probably think of several more poor behaviors that players on the team had. Again, behaviors drive results. But if bad behaviors driving poor results, what if you flip the script?
You guessed it, winning behaviors can completely change your culture. If you want to be a 20-win team, then you have to have 20-win behaviors. It’s as simple as that. What do winning behaviors look like? They include:
- Working hard 100% of the time, regardless of who’s watching
- Putting in purposeful extra work
- Getting 8 hours of sleep each night
- Drinking plenty of water and staying hydrated
- Staying away from parties that can get you in trouble
- Keeping teammates away from those same parties
- Coaches hold players accountable for their actions
- Coaches come to practice prepared for the day
- Players have complete focus on the task at hand
- Players all buy into one goal: winning
- Players fight even when things get tough
Again, we could go on for days about behaviors that winning programs and cultures encompass. It’s not all on the coach, and it’s not all on the players. It takes buy-in from everybody in the program.
If you’re in the midst of trying to change a bad culture to a good one, I recommend this exercise:
Ask your players how many games they won last year?
Ask them how many they want to win this year?
First, focus on last year. Ask them to describe behaviors that contributed to that result. If they’re having trouble, give them some help.
Then, ask them what behaviors they need to encompass to get to X number of wins this year?
By doing this, your players are able to see problems they’ve had in the past and what they need to do in the future to get where you want your program to go. You can use this as a reference and hold your team accountable to the behaviors they stated they needed to exhibit to reach your goals.
Remember: culture isn’t built overnight, and players will inevitably slip up. What’s important is addressing those slip-ups and holding the proper people accountable.