More Than A Team



That all sounds good on paper and when we talk about it, but it’s not so easy to actually do.  Families have unique qualities that bond them together and there is an immeasurable amount of trust among them.  Each person needs to be willing to sacrifice their own comfort for the overall health of the team.


This may seem like an easy one.  Our teams spend every day together at practice, workouts, and on the bus to games.  But there is a big difference between “being with each other” and “investing in each other.”  There needs to come a time when each person realizes their role in the investment.  We can’t be halfhearted if we want to fulfill our role in the family.  We need to be all in.  Our time with each other can’t be out of requirement, but instead it needs to be because we truly want to be there for our teammate.  If we want to see our teams become family then we need to cherish our inner circle and put them before ourselves.  


Every family talks about hard things.  Families aren’t afraid to confront one another, but they do it in a way that is respectful and meaningful.  There is no family that is perfect and we need to understand that we are always under construction.  Our growth from a team to a family is an ongoing project and open communication with each other will allow this growth to occur.  Family member’s mistakes need to be held accountable and everyone involved needs to be willing to take criticism.  When we confront each other out of love and necessity, we are showing humility and care for our family.  Everyone needs to be conscious of when and where communication takes place as well.  Families need to keep communication within the circles of the group and can't spread personal information to those not associated with the team.  Open communication can only occur when there is an established trust with everyone.


Encouragement is essential to any family.  The more we pick each other up the more likely we are to have a positive impact on everyone.  Not only does encouragement boost our morale, but it also gives everyone a sense of security knowing that we can trust one another.  Not everyone on your team will have the same interests, background, or dreams.  In many cases these differences will cause friction, but in families those differences are nurtured and accepted.  We always have each other’s back.  When one or two guys decide they want to take it easy on a certain task, the rest of the family needs to encourage a better mindset and work ethic from them.  When each person does their job, the overall success of the team will increase.  


What family doesn’t have traditions?  It’s a common theme that is timeless for families and honored without question.  Traditions are celebrated by those who are part of the family and it really doesn’t matter what other people think.  We can’t be afraid to be silly and have fun with this because it’s what makes families special.  Find things that you can celebrate together and is common only to the members of your family.

Teams will play together and win some games, but they never become special without being a family.

Families laugh and families cry, but they are never broken and will always be there for each other.  If we want our program to be a family then we need to be willing to do things that make families great.  Trust each other, love each other, and make other's a priority in your locker room.  It’s not always convenient and it’s not always natural, but it’s always worth it.

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!