When playing as part of a team, it is not only individual talent that contributes to team success, but having a positive team culture.
This post is excerpted from Winning Ways of Women Coaches, where volleyball coach Amber Warners explores some of the key values of a positive team culture.
It is important to have standards and hold the players accountable. This includes everything from players being on time and working hard, giving full effort, to how they treat one another and how hard they work for the greater good of the team.
Sometimes, coaches may have different standards for different players, are afraid to hold the better players to the same standards of behaviour, or don’t care about holding the poorer skilled players to the same standards. They are unwilling to confront day-to-day accountability issues or just don’t feel that it is their job to be concerned with this area because they are so focused on the sport stuff. They may also be worried that this may come off as being an “aggressive coach.”
Make sure the standards are clear and that your administration is supportive so that no one gets caught by surprise. Not addressing these issues often will break down trust and cause division among team members.
We demand a lot from our players. They work. Most people would assume that means they are in great physical shape—and they are—but it also means we work hard in all areas: physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. We hold them to a standard in everything, from how hard they work on the court to how much they give to the program and how they treat one another and invest in one another.
One example of how we do this is through our off-season/summer workout program. We give them nine challenges that they need to be able to complete when they report back to campus for preseason training. Some of the challenges are physical and others are not. The physical challenges are geared toward different types of fitness—anaerobic, strength, core, and agility. We also have them write a letter of recommendation about themselves in the third person, outlining why they should be a member of the team and what they can bring to the group.
Gratitude and joy for others
We also believe it is very important for our players and coaches to show gratitude. We believe this is important especially because there are a lot of people who help us behind the scenes to allow us to be our best. It is important to tell those people who have supported us and influenced us that we are grateful for them. We have done this in different ways over the years, from individual handwritten cards to text bombs (everyone sending a text of thanks at the same time) to short thank-you videos.
Mudita is a Buddhist term that has no pronunciation. It means being happy for someone else’s successes. It means putting yourself as secondary when someone else has success. Being happy for a teammate when they get named player of the week. Shaking hands with our opponents after we lose and looking them in the eye and telling them congratulations. Watching our bench celebrate after the players on the court earn a point. I think we have one of the most talented benches in all of Division III, and they have the most joy and fun of all other volleyball benches. These women know that they could be playing more and receiving more accolades if they played for another team, but they aren’t jealous—they’re joyful and know how important they are, despite others being on the court.
Read the full list of key values from Amber Warners in Winning Ways of Women Coaches.
Winning Ways of Women Coaches
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