Who's Team, Anyway?

The days of “do it because I said so” coaching are long gone. Arguably, the great coaches never did employ the dictatorship philosophy, anyway. Today’s athletes are much more aware of their personal rights and reasons. Today’s athletes want to be treated as people first and are less likely to put up with a demeaning and tyrannical coach. Today’s athletes want to be treated fairly and respectfully. Today’s athletes have evolved.

The latest and greatest buzz word for teams and organizations is “ownership.” At its very core, ownership maintains that “something is mine.” And, when an individual owns something, be it large or small, he is more likely to work toward developing and keeping it. As coaches, one of the greatest challenges faced is guiding players to develop and maintain a sense of ownership. After all, how good is a coach if his players only work hard when he is pushing them? How successful will he be if his players only perform when he is driving them?

Developing ownership within the team will allow you, as coach, to focus on the bigger picture -strategizing to win.

So, how do the great ones do it? All great coaches involve their players, to some degree, in the design and implementation of the success strategy. There is no better question to ask a player than, “What do you want?”. By inviting the player into the developmental process you are saying to him, “I respect your opinion. I want you to help us, and yourself, to become more than we are today. I want you to own your individual success and realize it is a critical piece of our team’s performance.”

A simple concept, yet most coaches tend to be so caught up in their own storms that they do not take the time to engage the cogs of the machine in the ownership of its overall success. As a result, excessive energy is wasted on punishment for non-adherence to team rules, never-ending motivational programs, and time spent keeping the ship afloat, instead of winning the race.

For coaches that have the excessive need to control all facets of the program, you will have a very difficult time easing the reins and engaging your team in it’s process of development. Letting go is never easy. But, the long term benefits far outweigh the short term risks. After all, great teams work toward a common goal… not just the coach’s goal.

S² Tip

Engage your athletes – don’t just tell them – in the process of improvement.

Success Story

Congratulations Tanya Haave, head basketball coach for the Metro State University (Denver, CO) women’s basketball team, on their current best-ever 24-1 season record!

In Another’s Words…

“I think with the players who have been here, regardless of whether they’ve been in that No. 1 position, that’s what we’re always trying to be together — the best team.”

– Pat Summitt