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Team Culture: It goes beyond the athletes on the team

When you hear the words " Team Culture" what comes to your mind?

Is it your team culture, the team you play with, the team you coach or is it the team you support as a parent?

There are numerous amounts of documents and studies that surround the theory of creating a positive team culture but in this particular blog I want to speak to the pieces of the team that make a POSITIVE Team Culture.

Those pieces are the Athlete, The Parent and The Coach.

Lets start with the Athlete.

First lets identify what type of athlete you are on your team.

A. Are you the girl that ALWAYS shows up? That knows that in order to be her best she has to do the things daily to keep her leaning into the good and the bad to truly understand what she is capable of.

B. Maybe you are the girl who can't get past her failures and it takes about 4 other high performers to lift you "get you out of your head?"

C. Heck, maybe you are one of the high performers on your team!

In any sense you have to constantly be aware that you are playing a team sport. In order for a team to work well together, to build a positive team culture you have to be willing to show up the best way you can...not that you know how too. Why not "the best way you know how too?" Its simple you should ALWAYS be learning and never allow yourself to be stuck on one aspect of growth other than to constantly be growing!

Personal example: If you only brush your teeth twice a day and then you start to get cavities, what should you be adding to your dental hygiene? (Keep in mind I am not a dentist)...just a person who didn't have one cavity in her life until she was 32 years old and then suddenly she (I) had 9! Yup! Speaking from experience here, I had to add flossing daily to my regimen in order to be better at my dental hygiene. I also had to quite chewing ice. It was told to me by my dentist that the crunching of ice basically compacted the food in my back teeth, hence where the cavities started.

Now lets bring it back to a softball example. Lets say you are a pitcher and you only pitch on game days and when Coach has you throw a bull pen at practice. Do you think by only doing that you are going to throw more consistently let alone actually hit your spots and lets not forget practicing the pressure in practice to throw a great game. As a coach of 23 years and counting specifically in pitching and also being a pitcher myself...NO you are not going to do anything good for yourself let alone your team.

This is where as the athlete you have to be willing to do more vs only doing what you know to do in order to grow and be the teammate that you want to play with.

What if you are the athlete on the team that gets in her head, tends to stay there too long all while sucking the energy out of her entire team by living in her own pitty party all from an error 5 innings ago?? I know it sounds horrible but this is truly what happens. What team culture are you building by allowing yourself to do that? A bad one. Soon enough your teammates will lo-key start to despite you and well not want to play with you anymore. This also happens off the field too.

So what can you do to stay out of your head and keep yourself from staying hung up on an error...insert my good ol' college days here.... #history

I encourage all of you AS A TEAM in order to build the TEAM CULTURE of staying present to write #history on the top of your cleats. Why the top of you cleats? It's simple because your head drops when you make an error or let your team down in anyway...let alone let yourself and your personal expectations down. As your head is down you will see the word "history" and know in that moment that that play is is simply HISTORY! By all means be my guest to live for the next play that is waiting to be made vs living in the last play that you failed to make.

Now I want to speak to the high performers on the team! Is that you? Well if you are so boldly to call yourself a high performer on your team then I want you to think about what you bring to the team? Not the X's and the O's but the INTANGABLE "thing" to the team.

Side note here: this is a word that one of my fellow Coaches and friend uses a lot not just on his softball teams culture but in his businesses on supporting his employees to stand out more and be bought into being a part of something bigger than themselves.

Not the fact that you hit your growth spurt before 90% of your teammates so you can hit harder, you throw harder..etc...

I want you to imagine your team without you on it. Would they make it, would they survive? I think anyone let alone any good team will figure out how to make change work in the aspect of losing a great hitter, pitcher, player...etc. The question is, is what is your Intangible thing that NO ONE else can repeat let alone reproduce. Its the thing about you that those that know you on and off the field miss about you when you aren't around. So what is it that you bring to your team? Do you add FIRE, ENERGY, or JOY? Or do you add a cloud of dread over them because even as a "high performer" your attitude is terrible, you think you are Gods gift to softball and you low key bully your teammates on and off the field....and lets not forget the fact that you can non verbally get your teammates to pick on each other and talk terrible at each other as well as the coaches. Unfortunaltey in your minds eye you don't see the negativity that you bring to your team culture because you are hitting the ball, playing defense, catching great, pitching great...because you are basically at this point playing by yourself, you have been trained by someone in your life to think that you are the best thing ever in softball and well when you play a team sport its not about you, its about the TEAM.

((SIDE NOTE)) If at any point you as the athlete felt like you might be adding negatively to your team culture, please do not allow yourself to stay stuck in this place. I want to give you a high-five for allowing yourself to identify where you can be better...this is self awareness! This is you wanting to be your best teammate for your team! As a coach I want to encourage you to have that tough conversation with your coach, your teammates your parents and let them know you want to be better for them by understanding and implementing the things that you need to do so you can show up your best self!

I'm going to shock you with this one too....there is no "I" in team but there is a "ME." YUP, there is you on a team, a team...especially the most team sport ever that you have to individually train yourself to play in order to play as a team...CRAZY concept, I know lol!

So HIGH PERFORMERS, what is your INTANGABLE? What are you bringing or adding to the team?

Alright lets speak to the Parents.

I know this can be a touchy subject at times but it needs to be addressed. On a personal note I like to "recruit" parents before I pay attention to how their daughter plays. As a coach of 23 years along with being a college coach now, I even pay attention to the parents at the 10u-12u level! This age group right here will define a lot about an athletes future in the game. There is so much that a 10-12 year old female athlete is soaking up right now on and off the field. These are the years that they decide weather or not to continue playing and they also decide which type of athlete they want to be.

Some of the things I pay close attention too are the parents body language when their daughter isn't preforming to her parents standards. Do they shut off all communication or just lay into them with loud body language. Do they caudle them, like its okay x10 or do they lay into them verbally. Here is a new one that some of you have to really sit and observe to see but I also pay attention to the parents and how they support everyone on the team. ((this is TEAM CULTURE))

This right here is how a team culture gets built negatively or positively. Truth is if you as a parent can't support your daughters teammates because you have a personal agenda towards others on her team then you probably need to quit that team and consider maybe putting her in a single man sport....or here is a new concept, LEARN to do something new, better that would not only support your daughter but also support her teammates. Something that would add VALUE to the Team Culture vs taking away from it. All because you refuse to learn anything that you didn't think of let alone accept that for once in your life it isn't about you and your glory days but your daughters! I know shocker to some but please, (I will say that again) please do not write your daughters story with your broken athlete story. For all of her greatness she has and has yet to obtain and eagerness to grow and learn with her teammates allow her to be herself not the angry version of all of the "what if's" and "If I had only ," stories you have kept repeating in your own head become a part of hers.

Another thing I pay close attention to when it comes to the parents I want and the parents I choose to have as a part of my Team Culture as a Coach is how do they act when their child is doing great? Especially in softball again the most individualized team sport ever! Do they, do you act as if you daughter did it all? Yes you have every right to celebrate your child, heck in your minds eye they are the best but when it comes to team work are you understanding that your daughter was great in that game because her teammates were great too? This is why you cannot be a parent that supports your daughters team when it is convenient for you or have selective liking as to who you like for today vs who you didn't life last weekend. I get it you are an adult and you can do whatever you want but when it comes down to it...with that responsibility you also need to grow and learn more vs doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.

So parents how do you support your daughters TEAM CULTURE?

Alright Coaches! A little coach to coach talk here...and for some a little coach/parent to coach/parent talk. How do you create your TEAM CULTRUE? Do you have expectations? Expectations are HUGE for creating the team culture you want. This will allow you to attract the players you want as well as the entire family. Expectations IE: no walking on my field, no back talking, no teammate disrespect (this is huge) to have with girls. It teaches them to be kind to each other and accept one another on and off the field.

How do you allow your high performers to add to the TEAM CULTURE? Notice how I said ADD and not subtract. If you are currently coaching a team with a solid core of 5 that are low key bullies and this happens on and off the filed you may have missed the opportunity to correct this. Does it mean it is a lost cause? No not at all but this just validates the 10-12 years of age window. Meaning if you are currently coaching 10-12U players get a hold of this negativity now! I have been coaching girls long enough to know that if you don't do this, girls softball dreams literally get crushed on both sides of the spectrum. The girl that was bullied on and off the field by her "softball sisters" has a higher chance of walking away and the girl who was the bully might end up being the best player in the state by her senior year but ultimately decides t walk away from the sport because its not fun anymore....exactly why the girl who was picked on starting at ages 10 and 12 years of age...all because you weren't allowing yourself to own your position in their lives as their coach and calling the HIGH PERFORMERS to greatness by pushing them to identify their INTANGABLES and allowing EVERYONE, including EVERYONE on the team in this mind blowing opportunity to actually get to play a sport they love all while seeing their SOFTBALL SISTERS on and off the field and continuing to have FUN!

I know this is a lot of info so in closing I want to encourage you as the Coach to go get the parents you want first. Then watch their kiddo play in good moments and in bad ones. When you do this know it takes longer to create that "winning" team but truth is, if you have made it this far in this weeks blog you already know that the longer it takes to acquire the team you want the more wins over all on and off the field you and your girls will obtain TOGETHER....all while continuing to build the TEAM CULTURE that you knew you ALL (yourself, parents and athletes) were able to come together and

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