Coaching Up a Championship Culture

As coaches, we are tasked with the responsibility of impacting the lives of our players and everyone around us.  We are expected to have a positive influence on our players and give them the necessary tools to graduate in order to become great at whatever they do in life.  Coaching is not merely about wins and losses, nor is it about how many sprints we can make our players run.  Instead, coaching is a call to disciple and teach young men or women to be the best that they can possibly be.  The culture that we demonstrate through our words and actions will be the example in which our players will learn to live their lives.  There are three areas that are crucial in evolving a championship culture and we need to consider developing our culture each day. 


1. TRUST – This may be the most difficult character trait to cultivate within our programs.  With factors such as playing time, academics, athletic ability, relationships, etc., it almost takes a magician to establish trust among every member of our programs.  I’m sure everyone has heard the saying, “It takes years to build trust, but only seconds to lose it.”  I think that quote is fairly accurate and we need to take our relationships with our players very seriously.  We also need to make sure that our players are doing things that enable their teammates to trust them.  Kevin Eastman, Vice President of Basketball Operations for the Los Angeles Clippers, made a comment on an Entre Leadership podcast about establishing trust with his NBA players or else he would lose them for two weeks. Trust needs to be a priority in our programs if we want to have a healthy and championship caliber culture.  Everything we do and say is under a microscope and we need to be aware of the affect our actions/words have on others.


2. RESPONSIBILITY – The ability to hold our players accountable is of the utmost importance, but it is even more important that our players hold each other accountable.  All of us have been irresponsible at some point in our lives and we need to communicate the significance that responsibility has on the overall success of our programs.  If we don't, our players will not learn how to be responsible.  So many young players struggle with responsibility not necessarily because they are lazy, but because they have never been taught how to get things done consistently and on time.  When our players fail to act responsibly we need to come alongside them and disciple them through the process and teach them how to do the right things.  Once we demonstrate how to be responsible and communicate expectations, our players begin to collectively hold each other to higher standards and the fruits of our efforts will begin to show.  When everyone takes care of their responsibilities it communicates and establishes trust.


3. SERVANT LEADERSHIP – Being a servant leader requires humility.  Humility is something that is demonstrated by placing the needs of others before my own.  It isn’t natural to be a servant and it isn’t natural to put others first, but when we make an effort to do the unnatural we see positive impact.  Obviously, as coaches we need to serve our players and lead them in a way that will help them become great men.  The hard part is teaching our players how to serve others and put others first.  Our examples of servant leadership may be the only example that they have ever seen in their lives.  We live in a generation where it’s all about “what can I get?”  If we allow that mindset of selfishness to infiltrate our program, we will never be successful.  Servant leaders are people who always care more about the guy next to him and constantly think of ways to help make them better.  When we decide to serve and help others we will begin to see success through our humble service.  Responsibility and trust are more easily cultivated when everyone in the group has the other person’s best interest at heart. 


Although there are many more characteristics and qualities that make up a great culture, I believe these three are a solid foundation.  A championship culture can only be realized when every member of the program decides to be a “Champion Today.”  They decide to do what they are supposed to be doing and be where they are supposed to be on a daily basis.  Once we start living these habits, we will see positive change within our culture that will eventually lead to success.  When we SERVE – we inspire others to take RESPONSIBILITY.  When we are RESPONSIBLE – we enable others TRUST.  When we TRUST – we desire to SERVE others.  The circle is endless and is a great foundation in coaching up a championship culture!