Is your child on a winning team?
Although youth sports should not be solely fixated winning games, it should be focused on building a winning culture.
There is a difference between the two: a team that is obsessed with only winning games will do whatever it takes to make that happen, regardless of how it affects the players on the team–their safety, their skill development and their character growth.
A team that is committed to building a winning culture is focused on what will help athletes learn to succeed on all levels–physical, mental, emotional.
Teams that focus on the winning culture have a much better chance to win games, although there is no 100% guarantee of that. But the challenge in building a winning culture is that it takes time and patience. There are no magic pills for sure and steady success.
If you are coaching a youth team, or if you are a parent looking for that winning culture, here’s some very essentials ingredients to look for:
The team has defined values and incorporates into everything they do.
I encourage every team to come up with core values and then work to incorporate them into the season. Coaches and parents much communicate them, over and over and over. They must also lead by example and set performance measurements of that value, rewarding success publicly.
For instance, let’s say one of the team’s core values is “building teammates up”. After the game, when the team gathers to talk, take time to recognize a player who exemplified this core value. When my daughter was in college, their team called it “put-ups.” Players recognized other players who did something positive in the game.
Core values should not just be some nice thoughts that you say at the beginning of the season to inspire players, they should be focused on all season long.
The team trusts each other.
Many teams believe that trust is nice to have but not a key factor for winning. That simply isn’t true. Trust directly affects a team’s performance. When there isn’t trust between team members, it is impossible to achieve real success.
Team members need to know that they have each others’ backs and that blaming each other for mistakes or losses is not an option.
The team sets goals and keeps raising the bar.
A winning culture team sets goals and defines the path to success. It’s important for coaches and teams to set both attainable goals and seemingly unattainable goals in order to push players to get better. While celebrating the small wins is important and keeps players engaged, don’t get too hung up on the little achievements and ignore the bigger challenges. That will only encourage players to settle for mediocrity. Players need to be pushed out of their comfort zones to achieve things they didn’t think they could do.
The team nurtures a love for the game.
Kids will play sports longer if they enjoy the game. Nurturing a love for the game does not mean that it always has to be fun, but it definitely helps to inject some fun into practices and games. It’s okay to laugh now and then! Enjoy the kids; they can be very entertaining!
That being said, having fun does not mean that players shouldn’t work hard and be pushed. Hard work and fun can play on the same field!
The team has ownership.
John O’Sullivan, founder of the Changing the Game Project, explains the importance of letting kids have ownership in youth sports: “Millions of kids leave sports and look for a place where their every action and every mistake is not scrutinized by an adult. That is not to say there is not a place for coaching or teaching; but good coaching does not take away autonomy. If you doubt this, then ask yourself “Why does the average teenage boy play 17 hours of video games a week?” A big part of that why is there is no one standing over his shoulder critiquing every move, and demanding that he entertain them.”
Parents are not the only ones who must learn the value of letting go and letting kids fight their own battles; coaches also must learn to let players take ownership and battle through things. Coaches that are striving to create a winning culture teach principles and then encourage ownership. Micro-managing coaches are not creating leaders or winners.
As you strive for a winning team…
How can YOU create a winning culture on a team or find one for your child? If you are struggling to do that, I believe I can help. As a certified life coach, my job is to help you find answers to areas where you feel stuck. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and let’s get started on helping you create or find a winning culture that will help your child grow to be the best he or she can be.