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Friday, 05 April 2019 10:22

The Coaching Big 5

Written by  Iain Shippey

In the next series for coaches, I will talk about the Coaching Big 5

1.Coaches create the right environment

The coach and the captain co -­‐ create an environment that players thrive in.

Lauren Jackson is one of the world’s top basketball players. She is captain of the Australian Opals Basketball team, a forward/center with American WNBA’s Seattle Storm, has played for the Canberra Capitals in the Australian WNBL, as well as in the Russian league and the South Korean league. Lauren says this about environment, “You need support and encouragement. There is nothing worse than being in an environment where you don’t feel support from the people around you. All athletes need an environment that contains

support, respect and trust. The management team and your teammates must be with you when there is a crisis, whether in life or sport.”8

8 ways to create a positive team environment

There are several things a leader can do to make your team environment a positive one and to facilitate a feeling of cooperation, teamwork and joy among your players. Some of these are:

  1. Build trust

Trust is the basic tenet for all relationships, so building an environment of trust is one of the most important things you can do to create a positive work environment. It's a philosophy that must be demonstrated in everything you and your team does. Trust is about doing what you say you are going to do and being who you say you are. It's about showing your staff in everything you do that you are reliable, responsible and accountable, and that they can rely on you for consistency. Also letting them know you expect the same from them. When your words and behaviour are congruent you foster trust. It will take some time for your team members to learn that you are a person of your word. If they see that you are consistent you will build trust, but if they see your words don't match your actions their trust in you will be destroyed. The unfortunate thing about trust is that it takes a long time to build, but it's very fragile and will break easily. Once broken, it takes an even longer time to regain, and it may never be fully rebuilt. Therefore, it’s of primary importance that you are aware of all your words and behaviours and insure that they are worthy of your teams’ trust.

Even when dealing with uncomfortable situations, if you are honest and upfront it will make things easier for everyone. What you say and what you do represent who you are. Even if they don't like what you are saying, if you say it honestly, compassionately and tactfully, they will respect and trust you. Your player’s level of trust will also be determined by how well you keep confidences and don't disclose discussions that have been held in private. They have to know they can talk with you about sensitive subjects and that the information they share with you will be kept in strict confidence. Confidentiality is critical in all aspects of your role as a coach. This also applies to never discussing one teammate with another, except in positive terms. Any problems you are having with a team member must be kept between   you and that player, and the captain, if applicable. A good coach never talks negatively about his or her team.

Exercise: Three things I will do to build trust with my players are:

ii) Communicate positively and openly.

In order to create a positive work environment each player needs to feel valued. This is best accomplished through your listening to each person and honoring each one for what he or she has to say. By doing this you will show that you value and respect every individual.

Exercise: I will create an atmosphere of open communication by:



iii) Expect the best from your team

There is a concept called The Self -­‐ Fulfilling Prophecy which states that people generally will perform in the way others expect them to perform. So, if you have high expectations for your team, treat them as if they are capable, competent people and expect them to function as such, they will rise to the occasion and be the excellent players you see them to be.

However, if you micromanage them, expect them to be mediocre and treat them as if they can't function well on their own, that is the behaviour they will give you. A good coach always has high expectations for his or her team and treats them accordingly.

Exercise: Three ways I will let my team know I believe they are talented capable and competent are:



iv).Create team spirit

One of our basic human needs is to feel we belong to something bigger than ourselves, and for many people that need is met by being part of an extraordinary team. As a coach, part of your job is to create a feeling of unity among your team. This unity will help your team members feel valued and that they belong.

To foster this team -­‐ feeling you must convey to the entire team that every person plays an important role. Encourage an attitude of cooperation rather than competition. When you create team spirit and identity, players will see themselves as a group of people all working for a common goal, rather than a bunch of individuals competing with each other.

Another exercise you can do with your players to increase their appreciation of each other and feeling of team spirit is called Skill Appreciation. In this exercise, team members recognize and appreciate each other for the unique skills each brings to the unit. Take time at one of your meetings to focus on this aspect. Give each person a 3 x 5 card and ask him or her to write his or her name at the top. Have each person place their card on the table in front of them, and then move one place to the right so they're sitting in front of their neighbour's card. Then ask them to write words of appreciation on the card of a teammate, including positive personal characteristics, attitudes and skills they bring to the team.

Make sure team members know a bit about each other's personal life by setting aside 5 minutes at practices, on the bus, in the hotel. Have one person tell about something positive that's happened in their life in the past month.

Exercise: Three things I will do to create team spirit are:

v).Give recognition and appreciation

Whenever you can, catch people being good and make sure they and others know about it. Give recognition and appreciation to everyone at every opportunity. For example: "Susan, I appreciate your vision and the way you pass the ball”. "James, thank you for staying after practice yesterday to practice your kicking at goals. I really appreciate your work ethic and positive, can -­‐ do attitude." When verbalising appreciation try to make it as personal as possible. Rather than just saying something vague like "good job", be specific about the personal quality or skill your team member brought to the task.

Exercise: Three ways I will give recognition and appreciation to my team are:


vi). Give credit and take responsibility


Always give credit for success to your players, and take appropriate responsibility when things don't go well.

Exercise: I will give credit to my team by:



vii).Be approachable

Always present an attitude of approachability to your team. Indicate by your manner that you are available and happy to speak with any team members. Also, always be prepared to listen to whatever they want to share with you, and validate what you've heard. If they have concerns, tell them you will look into it and get back to them by a certain time. Then be sure you do!

It's important that at every practice for you to connect with people. Be sure that you smile and make eye contact with everyone in the team. Act in a friendly manner, call people by name, be approachable, and show interest in their personal lives, position and role in the team.

Exercise: Three ways I will make myself available and be approachable to my team are:

viii) .Make it fun

Everyone wants to be where people are having fun, so make your practices and change room feel happy and festive. Find reasons to celebrate together, such as birthdays, the birth of a baby, moving into a new house, etc. Have small parties to celebrate these events. If possible provide a cake, and put up a sign or banner in the change room saying, ‘Today we are celebrating……………’

Exercise: Ask your players what would be fun for them and then get your captain to help you implement what is feasible.

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