How to Create a Positive Team Environment (And Win More While You Do)

See more in-game suc­cess by devel­op­ing a pos­i­tive cul­ture in three steps.

How to Create a Positive Team Environment (And Win More While You Do)

See more in-game suc­cess by devel­op­ing a pos­i­tive cul­ture in three steps.

It’s not whether you win or lose, it’s how you play the game.”

Sure, win­ning is impor­tant, but so is your play­ers’ well-being. Just like pos­i­tive teams are more pro­duc­tive in the work­force, they’re also more suc­cess­ful on the field or court. A good cul­ture can devel­op nat­u­ral­ly, but it’s up to coach­es to cre­ate an encour­ag­ing envi­ron­ment. These three small steps can make a big impact on your team.

Measure Success beyond Ws and Ls

Whether or not your team has a win­ning sea­son, it’s impor­tant for coach­es to acknowl­edge the lit­tle wins, like your team exe­cut­ing cer­tain plays bet­ter, or improv­ing in a set of stats, along the way. 

Individual improve­ment is anoth­er way to assess how far your team has come — like if the play­er who racked up the most penal­ties or fouls in your ear­li­est games has cut that num­ber in half by the end of the season. 

Stats that align with your coach­ing phi­los­o­phy are a good way to mea­sure progress, but suc­cess can also be mea­sured by your play­ers’ indi­vid­ual and team efforts.

Involve the Entire Team

One of the key things stu­dents learn from high school ath­let­ics is the val­ue of par­tic­i­pa­tion and team­work. It’s easy to focus on your top per­form­ers, but great coach­es find ways to make even their least skilled play­ers feel like MVPs. 

Be con­sis­tent in your inter­ac­tions with play­ers and find ways to involve your entire team (includ­ing the non-starters) in prac­tices, work­outs and game prep. Consider an exer­cise where play­ers take turns dis­cussing what each mem­ber brings to the team. This can reas­sure every­one that their con­tri­bu­tions are key to the team’s suc­cess, no mat­ter if it’s points scored or morale boosted.

Reinforce Good Behavior

On the team or indi­vid­ual lev­el, pos­i­tive rein­force­ment is gen­er­al­ly more effec­tive than pun­ish­ment when it comes to chang­ing behav­ior — and it cre­ates a more con­struc­tive atmos­phere on your team.

Players learn from your exam­ple. If they see you prais­ing their team­mates for good behav­ior rather than com­ing down on them for poor per­for­mance, they’re like­ly to do the same (even when you’re not around). 

Take a few min­utes in each review ses­sion to go over high­lights — ide­al­ly before you begin the phys­i­cal part of prac­tice so the team is ener­gized. Letting your play­ers access game video helps them share these moments with their par­ents and friends, and giv­ing them the oppor­tu­ni­ty to do this on their own will ensure you don’t need to devote too much impor­tant prac­tice time to it.

For more ways to engage your ath­letes, check out our guide to build­ing your coach­ing phi­los­o­phy.