“Any advice to coaches out there?” (Interviewer)
“Yeah, focus on building a good culture, then you can start coaching us” (17 year old)
This ‘culture’ thing is huge and has so many facets to it. What we do know is that young people have a strong need for relatedness with their peers. They crave belonging where they want to feel safe and trust in a team environment. Coaching a rep team, often means that players will come from a range of different teams, where a challenge we face is to galvanise the squad together to foster a ‘culture to belong,’ whilst also managing the ‘uncomfortable space’ which comes with playing and coaching in a rep team.
It’s easy to spend the limited amount of time we have, focussed on the technical and tactical elements of your sport. Although how much time and effort should we dedicate to fostering the team culture to enhance that belonging and connectedness? Is it an extra thing or integrated into what we do?
Now the great thing is, you are probably doing a great job of this, and you have a wealth of experience to draw on…. both good and bad… whether that be in sporting teams, workplaces, home, or other areas of life. Consider theming and goal setting. What are we here to achieve? Reflect on how well you know your players. What makes them tick? What helps them be at their best? Is there anyone struggling to fit in? Why is that?
And there is no better measure of how connected the players are, once they deal with pressure and adversity. Loses, poor performances and selections often highlights chinks in the armour, so when is the right time to test how genuinely connected the players are? Only you know the answer to that.
(This is #4 if a 6 part series of 'representative team coaching.')
Refer to module ‘Building Culture’ from the Leading Coach Programme for more info.