The three duties that coaches must do to improve the culture of a team. Those three things are getting players to accept the system, creating an environment of acceptance, and setting an expectation of hard work.
Getting players to buy into the coach’s system can be a tricky process when it comes to college-level athletics. This may be the case because the players come from all over the country and have been coached by different coaches throughout their lives. We will use baseball as an example. Today most baseball players are products of individual hitting coaches, outfield coaches or pitching coaches and these coaches believe that their style is the best style. These players believe in the philosophies of these coaches because it took them to the college level. Now college coaches want to change something about a player and players are reluctant to change because their college coach’s ideas are not the same as their hitting coach or pitching coach. For coaches to convince their players, they must make the players understand why the system works the way it does. The coaches should have a meeting with the players and explain to them that we do these exercises because they help “X” and then that “X” will help us become better players. If the players don’t understand why they are doing what they are doing, then they have no chance of accepting what the coach believes. Another thing coaches need to do is show their players successful results because of the system they run. They should show current players successful stats and videos of past players who played for them. For a new coach, they should show them stats and videos of teams running systems similar to what the new coach is trying to implement. My head coach at ISU has a meeting at the beginning of each year and he tells us the new drills we’re going to do and explains how each drill helps. This helps my teammates trust my coach and creates a sense of trust between the players knowing that everyone is on the same page working towards the same goal.
An accepting environment is important for a player’s learning and development. A player who feels threatened and unimportant is much more likely to fail than to succeed. A player in a safe and accepting environment will be open to new ideas and will recover from failure faster because he knows that if he fails for trying, he will not be punished, but praised for trying. One way to create an accepting environment is to be a supportive leader rather than an achievement-oriented leader. A leader who emphasizes results rather than process can create unnecessary pressure on the players. Baseball is a game where failure happens much more than success. A coach who preaches getting it right will always make a player push harder and harder every game. This will make a player tense in game situations because the player knows that if he doesn’t get hit, he will be punished or yelled at. A coach who preaches hitting the ball hard, regardless of whether it’s a hit or an out, will make players feel more comfortable in the batter’s box, leading to more balls hit hard, eventually ending up with more hits for the team. The process is much more valuable in baseball than the results.
Establishing a hard working environment is vital to a high performing team and culture. It is known that baseball is not a power sport, but rather a sport of finesse. There may be some truth to this, but it is very important to have the strength to play at a very high level. The weight room is an important place for a baseball player to work hard, but it’s also a very easy place for a player to be lazy and not take it seriously. Making sure your players perform 100 percent in the weight room is imperative to establishing a tough work environment. The coach must find ways to motivate his players in one way or another. The coach can do this by setting goals for each player every two weeks. An example of this would be testing their squat max at the beginning of the season and then testing their squat max at the end of the season to ensure they have gained power. If his squat has not improved, there will be a penalty for the player. If a hard-working environment is established in the weight room, it will carry over to the field of play as well. Players will feel too invested in the process to only go 50 percent on the field. Another thing you need to do to create a hard working environment is to make sure the game is played the right way. This includes having players run in and out of the field between innings. This includes making players run 100 percent on the basic paths, whether it’s a sure hit or a sure hit, and when players don’t obey these simple rules, they will be punished. This will create a tough mindset that will help in the culture.