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Guest Blog: How to build a better team culture

About the author: Avec Sport, has a keen interest in sports and supply team kits to professionals and grass root clubs. Here Steven Ladd, their Media Manager, writes about the importance of building a positive team culture.

When it comes to coaching, there is nothing more important than creating a positive, nurturing environment for a team to thrive in. That being said, it isn’t always as easy as it sounds. 

Whether it's for kids on the local footy team or adults playing netball, building a positive team culture is vital for encouraging players to stay involved and motivating them to do their best. Here’s some of the different ways you can build a better team culture.

Build strong genuine relationships 

Do this by being open, fair and accepting of all your players. Sport brings people together from all different walks of life and individuals can build their confidence on and off the pitch. Not everyone has bags of confidence so it's important everyone feels included, listen to their opinions and decide as a team (as much as possible) who's playing where and what tactics to follow for each game. 

To be a great leader, you have to listen to your players’ opinions and encourage them to be involved. When you’re spending a lot of time together as a team, you will naturally begin to build strong and genuine relationships. When a team has a positive relationship on and off the pitch, it will benefit how they perform too. 

Instil values in the team

Being a coach means you need to be a strong, fair role model for younger players to look up to. If you listen to people’s concerns, issues can be resolved and it will help bring the team closer together. It’s beneficial for you to lead by example for your players. If you have any bad habits, they will think it’s fine for them to act in the same manner. 

Show the importance of respecting everyone in the team and respecting the teams you play against. Positive values will be witnessed by your team and they will be motivated to follow in your footsteps. Also, always defend your players when there’s a disagreement over a decision or something controversial happens.

Give responsibilities to members

Everyone needs to feel useful and needed. It's important to designate tasks or positions and change them from time to time. Everyone has different strengths, it’s just about finding them. When players have their own responsibilities in a team, they will be encouraged to be more interactive and feel like they have a pivotal role. This motivates them to stay committed in the team and share their opinions.

Focus on the positives

A positive attitude can help maintain an excellent team culture. Losing games, bad weather or disappointing performances can put you in a negative mood but, for the sake of your team, it’s your responsibility to focus on the positives. If you’re feeling low, it’s likely your team will be feeling the same too. Moaning between teammates has the potential to put a downer on the entire team. So, as the coach, it’s your responsibility to motivate your team and encourage positivity. 

There are many things you can do to help focus on the positives. Celebrate any victory, no matter how small. Even if you lose a game, if several players performed excellently, let them know; whilst telling the group as a whole that they are capable of much more, and you know they’ll be back on it next time. Take a break from rigorous training and play games instead. Negative attitudes can discourage people from attending games and eventually they could leave the team. By focusing on the positives, you can help maintain a positive team spirit.

Talk things through

Make sure to talk to your team as a team and individually. Communicating on a regular basis, encourages people to share their views and ideas for future tactics. As the coach, it’s important you complement all ideas and invite everyone to take part in group discussions. Even though you’re responsible for making tough decisions, having discussions means everyone will feel like they’re part of the decision making too. If you don’t want to use somebody’s suggestions, explain privately why you used other ideas and how using their idea would have impacted your plan - but stress you appreciate their input and because of that just wanted to explain why you didn’t use their ideas.

Bring communities together

Remember that fun comes first, winning comes second. Many competitive characters will disagree but if you’re unable to create a fun atmosphere for your team, it will discourage people from playing their best. People are devoting a lot of their time into playing and if they feel like they’re not having fun or it’s a stressful environment, they won’t be committed. By creating a fun and supportive team culture you can motivate people to play their best and encourage the entire community to get involved.

Steven Ladd, Media Manager, Avec Sport

Follow: @AvecSport