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Posted in: High Performance Coaching

The Practical Issue With Developing A 'Culture'

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  • I have seen much talk over time both on this site and elsewhere on the importance of creating a 'culture' of a team and 'developing the person', but how realistic are these goals?

    Many of the teams I coach I will only see for an hour or so once per week. How do you fit it into this time to develop a consistent and agreed culture that everyone will buy into, along with all the other technical and tactical development that needs to be done? To put it simply, how do you develop technique, tactics, and an environment, all at the same time? This in itself is relevant for senior teams, but what about younger players. When parents bring kids along and pay money for a session they want to see their kids doing things, not sitting around having discussions.

    So with adults, and particularly with children, how would you go about creating and then sustaining a beneficial culture with a group when contact time is minimal?

     · Blake Richardson, Jake Hannah and 2 others like this.
     
  • Hi Elliott

    Thank you for the original post. I would consider culture and the environment not as separate things you need to do, but products of everything you do. You can establish a culture simply through a consistent approach. A good definition of culture is "how we do things around here". The environment you therefore establish will then facilitate and develop the 'people' within it. As a leader of this group you have a huge influence on the culture so be aware of your actions and behaviours as these are probably the dominant drivers for your culture. 

    I hope this helps, good luck with your teams. 

    Matt

     · Sion Kitson, Steve Symonds and 3 others like this.
     
  • Hi Elliott,

    Developing a couple of phrases - 4  or 5 are usually around the most players can remember that precisely describe what you are trying to build and then highlighting positive examples is a really effective way to explain and reinforce the culture of your team.

    The balance of 'what' we are here to do with 'how' we get it done should pull everyone in the same direction.

    e.g.  Win Together - with a description of the behaviours for example.  

    We know  it takes xx players to win for our team.  We walk like a team, we talk like a team, we play like a team, we support each as a team.  We know winning takes team work.

    Then in your team talk, coach's player of the week, newsletter, match report, season report - highlight great examples of your team values being brought to life.

    Hope this helps but if you'd like to talk through - please contact me.

     · Catherine Baker, Mick Driscoll and 3 others like this.
     
  • Hi Elliot, 

    Have you tried a pre-season training day? You could set expectations with the players, discuss what you want your cultutre to be, set goals, maybe go through how your tactics are going to reflect that culture etc. Would only need a couple of hours probably and would mean everyone comes to the first training session in the correct mind set etc.

     · Blake Richardson, Catherine Baker and 1 other like this.
     
  • Thanks for all of your responses, very interesting points all round. I begin winter training with a couple of my youth teams next month so I will try to develop a system based on your suggestions and let you know how it goes.

    Thanks again!

     
  • How about some concrete things?  First look at teaching a sign of respect, i use a handshake lesson and ask that they do not hurry. I teach that without opponents and refs we could not enjoy this game. Next, We talk about how games and practices end. The game is not over till the locker room is clean. Many credit the All blacks but I credit mom. " The dishes arent done till the floor is swept" It seemed more annoying back then. I have few rules  but I do ask that older players help younger players by "leaving a footprint". For Montreal it was all about the sweater. For us it is always about how you want to be thought of 10 years from now. Your culture will be how your seen. If its healthy you will know. A quick story. Last week a man was telling me about a season 35 years ago that he remembers warmly. I was coach tony to him. As we talked 9 year old Danny walked up with a big smile and said "hi coach tony". I think the hockey community has good culture with kids like this around. Good like and remember that your philosophy is part of your culture. mine is play hockey

     · Rob Chapman, Catherine Baker and 2 others like this.
     
  • Lots of brilliant experiences shared in this thread. I will try and match the quality....

    Having a central 'ambition' or aim as the starting point normally helps. When coaching younger people, often it makes more sense to set this yourself as a coach. When coaching adults, involve them in the ambition setting. 

    So, for example, you might say to the kids "You are now in Coach Tony's team", and in coach Tony's team we always [try our best] [or whatever is appropriate]. Then have a set of 3 or 4 behaviours that need to be in place to facilitate this. Then make sure that you as coach walk the walk, and live those behaviours in the sessions at all times. At the start, repeating the ambition and behaviours as a group (possibly whilst warming up) can help to reinforce them, and it will also be important for you to 'enforce' them as much as possible from the word go - ie pick up on instances where this isn't being done. 

    It might seem onerous, and it might leave you thinking "hang on a minute, what about time for actual coaching...?!" but get this right and your actual coaching time will be so much more productive. 

     · Blake Richardson, Elliott Doyle and 2 others like this.
     
  • Elliott

    An interesting topic. Having read many of the replies it strikes me that a lot of the solutions and ideas seem to come from the coaches on how to set the culture. I look at it another way. What do the Athletes want / expect from the culture? I get them (at an early session) to look at what they want (i am involved in rugby). So the rules comes from them, not me. and example would be time keeping, having all their kit for sessions etc. If they can set the culture from their side, and the coaches add their side to it, it becomes more of a contract from both sides that they work to.

    it also has the added efect that the players build it, buy into it and can start to hold each other to account, so the coaches do not have to.

    hope that sort of makes sense.

     · Jon Eilbeck, Toby Bishop and 3 others like this.
     
  • There are some things online that I use as resources and some interesting sites with other things on coaching and group think.

    Way of champions with Dr. Jerry Lynch

    Winning youth coaching with Craig haworth

    Live4footy     Goodys  blog  

    Change the game project

    Philosophize this

    All of these have been helpful in adding to my knowledge and i hope they can help fuel your journey.

    One last note on culture. When you meet resistance and one wont carry the torch,help them. They may never turn out great and there may be no other reward then that you cared , but thats your reward. 

     
  • Hi Elliot, 

    Great topic for discussion. I think of culture as "what ideas are in the kids heads when they come to MY training".

    So a weaker kid might not get played in hockey but when he comes to my soccer he knows "train hard and often and you will start"... because that's my culture. 

    The only way a kid gets your culture is by what you say and do. So prepare conversations in ad ancestors of training about your culture and how you see the kids playing, behaving and having fun.

    I prepared "on a scale of 1-10, are we sprinting at a 10?" to which I knew the kids would reply NO. I prepared "So can give more effort?".... and when the time.came in training I could easily teach them that we need to give a 9 or 10 outta 10 cause other teams are two hnically better. 

    Kids love to "own" their identity so letting the decide to be hardest working team in division means they never feel like losers even if they lose a game.

    I recommend focusing on what you say for a training session or too and seeing how to improve your conversations to help build an even better culture.

    Cheers. Mark

     
  • On 13/09/16 2:52 PM, Elliott Doyle said:

    Many of the teams I coach I will only see for an hour or so once per week

    There are some really great points made in this thread already about how you create the culture within the session. However, I would llike to look at how you create that culture outside of that session. 

    You might not physically see the players outside the session but there are likely to be interactions going on between them - what are they like? 

    In the teams that I have coached there has been a high level of social media activity - to some degree I would argue that most of my coaching actually took place outside of the physical training sessions. That could be talking virtually with a player over a piece of game film or putting up a new set of plays to be run next time. There was also a strong social side between the players as well.

    In my current team, we have a Facebook group where I post all the various coaching materials/notes/film/news etc... but there is also a message group between everyone where the socialising and the freer talk takes place. Both elements are important. You can talk about being a team...all about we not I....or whatever your main message in the sessions is but what are they saying outside of that? Being involved in those conversations will give you a really good idea about what type of culture you really have in the team. From there, you can then see how you might look to change within the session - or refocus a paticualr point. That is not to say you police the conversations - that would be a recipie for disaster. They have to feel comfortable to talk in there, but you can influence...

     · Catherine Baker likes this.
     
  • This might also be of interest...

    http://www.athletesltd.com/thesource/cbaker1#.V4oUzlc4nGL=

     
  • So, plenty of us have weighed in on culture and have spoken on both the concrete and philosophical aspects of engendering positive culture within both the team environment and within that of the individual athletes world. Can I please ask a question in all seriousness? What is good culture when you see it? If you were watching a team I had worked with could you tell what we think of as appropriate? In a word or two could you say what you appreciate about that team. Positives please so we don't get bogged. Thank you all and have a great week, Tony L. view less

     
  • For me, a good culture looks different in every team - as every team is different with different objectives and reasons for being.

    However, I would argue they would share the same characteristic of having everyone going in the same direction with visable respect for each other. Everyone includes both players, coaches and support staff.

    Therefore if I went into your club and saw every player and coach striving to achieve a common aim and supporting each other to do so then I would say you would have a good culture.

    As I say this could be different visually. So a recreational club whose aim is to get people active would look  completely different to a national team competing at the highest level - but they should have that characteristic

     
  • Hi All

    I am new to the forum so stay with me.

    Culture for me is the environment you create for the athletes you work with to come in and experience you provide within the sport you are working in.

    In my programme wether it be the child who comes along for 1hour a week or the elite athlete training 30 + Hours our values and acceptable standards remain a constant throughout. 

    It is educating those from the moment they walk through the door what we do, how we do it and why we do it.

    We try our upmost to do this with athletes parents and the wider community, constantly reinforcing our message.

     · Melanie Mallinson likes this.
     
  • Some great experiences shared in this thread! It just occurred to me  Elliott Doyle that you might also be able to pick up some ideas from a thread started a while back in the Coaching Adults group by  Bill Baillie 'Building the culture within an amateur performance team' which includes the experiences of members  Roger Pickering  and Steve Symonds 

     · Elliott Doyle likes this.
     
  • Hi Elliot

    You have had many great suggestions to your issue, and I hope I can add something.

    Developing the culture is about what behaviours you would like to see within your team this is what will drive your culture.

    Questions to ask yourself:

    What is the teams identity?

    What is it you do?

    What does it mean to be a part of this team?

    You may not know all the answers yet, but humility is not a weakness and asking the questions will help set your beliefs and allow you to develop the culture.

    For me personally "better people make better players" that drives my culture.

    Regards

     · Rob Maaye likes this.
     
  • Quick story from The season. A mom was telling how much she appreciated how things went and stated she wished it was always like this. Chatting a bit I mentioned that the culture was very good and a lot of how we did was based on what we did together. Another mom said she didn't see that and , while the team did well it was because they could play more like a team not how they were together. Believe it or not , her son was the one who never helped pick up. First off the ice first out of the locker room, and last to pass to the lower level skaters. Yes , my lone blemish (that I know of). sometimes your words bounce right off others and land in the dirt. So even when you think you did well someone is always there to say, whatever!

     · Rob Maaye likes this.
     
  • HI Elliot,

    I've been doing a lot of reading recently about this because I feel I loosely create a culture without formally approaching it. So I feel my athletes (boxers) don't know what approaches/behaviours they should expect of themselves, but they have an idea. Too vague methinks! So for the first time ever I will be trying on Monday when the boxers start (Mon 11th Sept 2017) using a random list of values and behaviours written on cards for them to discuss. My idea is to get them to discuss in groups and feedback to the whole group how eliciting certain behaviours from these values will affect the academy. I suppose we need to get some examples too.

    At this point I reckon this will be an ongoing process, constantly refining how the behaviours need to reflect the values. If I'm honest, I have no idea how it will go. Boxers are an interesting breed as they are from a culture of militant, command style learning, so I'm sure I'll meet some roadblocks but I look forward to trying.

    Any advice guys?

  • tomwenham

    How did you get on with this approach? I'd be really interested to know how it worked out for you.

    I've always given my teams total autonomy for them to discuss values that resonate with them without any steer or direction. My role has simply been to facilitate the conversation. I do retain final say if they come up with anything I deem wholly unsuitable but this has never been the case.

    However I'm really interested in the cards and using these to provide some parameters. In my experience the power of the exercise is in the discussion and the meaning rather than the actual words themselves so I can see your approach working well.

    As the danger is that any process simply leads to words on a page (with no context or true meaning) I've recently added in ABCs (Actions, Behaviours and Characteristics) and the team explores, and develops, their own list against these three headings for each core value. 

     · Adam Haniver likes this.
     
  • aaseadam

    Hi Tom,

    Thanks for your reply mate.

    I think it went well! It got them chatting and helped them understand the difference between culture and just setting rules which they must follow (which i think has often been the approach in education - 'don't do this, don't do that'). I think they appreciate the approach of what they can do rather than what they can't.

    I put them in 3 groups of 5 and got them to discuss which 3-5 they think are most suitable for us to uphold. There were many cross-overs between the groups. We discussed the 5 most popular, and low and behold, they were the ones i pretty much thought would be the best way forward. So I suppose some means of autonomy was achieved!!?!?

    I'm in week 5 now and we've started building on these and adding in non negotiables to sparring and alos trying to work on PDS's 'rule of 3' as a model of feeding back to each other. I'm still trying to mould this in to a suitable boxing related format but i'm very happy so far with it and there is a lot more re-call when questioning the boxers than i'm used to in comparison to previous years.

    In short, I think the laminates helped stir their imaginations, conversations and set a context to why we think culture is important. It's no where near perfect, but I'm glad we did it!

  • Elliott
    A very interesting topic. I have always found that culture is grown by the group. It has to have all parties buying into it. This means that the coach / manager cannot develop the culture / rules without the players and their buy in.
    I think it goes back to how do you players find the environment they train in, do they have the opportunity to add to the tactical discussion? Have you ever asked them about training, tactical ideas or how they want to play? If you have then you will probably be pleasantly surprised that they probably are heading in the same direction as you, but more importantly they will have a feeling of being part of the journey, not just told what is happening. I have found that juniors enjoy this responsibility and have worked hard to get it right.
    You will I think find that the players would be far happier setting their own culture (rules as some might call them) which they all adhere to, like timekeeping, intensity in training etc, set by them they have a far greater buy in and you as coach are not leading it all the time.

    This can be difficult for the coach to do sometimes due to the feedback you get may not be as positive as you want, but in the longer term it may be the building blocks of the culture of development you were seeking in the first place.

    Rob 

     · Adam Haniver likes this.
     
  • Sounds good Adam. I guess you've heard the PDS podcast on The Talent Equation? There's some great stuff in there.

    I'm definitely going to look at introducing the cards.

     · Adam Haniver likes this.
     
  • Hey Tom, Yes I have - it's great. Been starting to implement it with my boxers at AASE.

    I am already seeing dividends in spars with effective decisions having been made during rather than after the rounds. Been using boxer led and boxer called 'Time Outs' too which have been instrumental.

    And

    On 12/10/17 12:04 PM, Tom Wenham said:

    Sounds good Adam. I guess you've heard the PDS podcast on The Talent Equation? There's some great stuff in there.

    I'm definitely going to look at introducing the cards.

    videoing the evidence to show them how their performances improve after their interventions. Now it's time to shorten the time outs and go back to point 1 as much as possible. Easy life for me at point 3! #redundant 

     
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