The “culture” of a team is a major factor in whatever level of success the team may enjoy. “Culture” can be a strong foundation that ultimately creates peak performance on a consistent basis, thus placing the team in the best position to perform. The success of winning a championship, in this context, is almost a byproduct of that “championship culture”.

The foundations of a strong culture are:

  • Commitment – to a higher cause or purpose – beyond simply the performance of the individual;
  • Responsibility – each team member (not just the players) accepting, and performing, a role within a team;
  • Accountability – being accountable to perform their own role and holding others accountable to perform their role. Accepting and giving constructive critique is important within any team;
  • Integrity – there being no gap between what you say and what you do;
  • Respect – demonstrating respect for self, team mates, opponents and the game itself;
  • Trust – between team mates that each will act to achieve the broader goal;
  • Leadership – everyone must be involved;
  • Humility – acknowledging contributions of others, gratitude and gratitude;
  • Courage & Sacrifice – doing what is required not what is preferred’
  • Compassion – empathy and support, understanding what impact their actions have on others.

Team rules can enhance the development of habits, which may become part of a strong culture. However, where the coach dictates all team rules they often become responsible for the enforcement of those rules, with players taking little responsibility for them.

What is preferable is for the players to be involved in setting of team rules and it is the discussion that often sets the cultures more so than the “rules” that may result. When developed by the coach and the players, the “rules” become reminders of the expectations for behaviour. The culture is the “enforcement” of those behaviours by the players holding each other accountable to acting in accordance with the culture.

The most effective enforcement of team rules is not the coach standing the team on the baseline and making them run sprints. What is effective is players holding each other accountable. With junior players in particular, the coach needs to monitor how that is done to make sure that players do not ridicule or bully team mates particularly if they are less skilled.