January 13, 2014 • Winning Hoops

Building a positive team atmosphere

Here are nine necessities for all coaches who want to develop a positive atmosphere within their teams.

1. Foster a family environment.

The ultimate leadership is servant leadership. Treat your program like a family bound by honesty, trust and collective responsibility. Draw out the best from people and help them get to where they want to go.

Treat each other like family and continue that relationship beyond the game. Encourage and develop collective responsibility, and build relationships on honesty and fairness, developing trust and earning respect along the way.

Don’t be too proud to receive input from your staff and players. The key is learning to be a servant.

2. Teach individual sacrifice.

Continually remind your team that while individuals will be taken care of, the vision of the team is more important than the individuals that make up that team.

Coaches must desire the success of each individual and take the hits for your team, protecting players from harm. Reward effort, and teach what’s important to the vision. Allow people to get close.

3. Establish good habits.

Be ready for success, understanding what must be accomplished each day. Success is second nature with good work habits, and purpose establishes your discipline and makes you more focused.

Organize your day, be prepared and do your homework because, like you, your competitors never rest. Take care of unpleasant things first, delegate with your staff and utilize resources.

It’s also important to pay attention to details and take notes. Paying the price of hard work makes you less willing to surrender. If you have a great work ethic and have begun to discipline yourself, self-esteem naturally follows.

As Rick Pitino said, “You must deserve victory to feel good about yourself.”

4. Cultivate self-esteem.

Confidence and humility builds self-esteem and takes people to greater heights. People that feel good about themselves are the ones that consistently achieve.

Believe in your players and staff, be positive and don’t hesitate to encourage — always see victory.

Everyone wants to believe they have value, and self-esteem is vital to achieving and has to be earned to have significant value.

5. Make a commitment to character.

Know that before you preach character, you must model class. A coach built on strong building blocks never falls under their foundation.

Here are some of the necessary traits: Humility, work ethic, honesty, integrity, personal responsibility, fairness and desire to trust in those around you.

Be a role model to players, and place convictions above convenience. Recruit high character people to help run the program, and teach personal responsibility and self-discipline.

6. Set demanding goals.

The team’s goals must be worthy of the team’s commitment. Challenge yourself and your team to reach new heights, understanding that failure is not permanent, just instructional.

Start out simple, and as you start having success, make goals more demanding. Focus on the task at hand, admit your weaknesses and set goals to overcome them. Don’t be content with small successes, and use those successes to work toward larger achievements.

Be ferociously persistent and take care of business. Stick to your plan of attack and realize that the goals in your life are a marathon, not a sprint.

7. Master the art of communication.

The goal is to connect with your team. Do they know how much you care? Focus on their needs as much as yours, and understand that communication requires more listening than it does speaking.

Coaches must strive to be better communicators and communicate those goals and needs to other people. Don’t feel the need to be right all the time, and learn how to relate to people, no matter their position.

Remember, communication is less about speaking than about listening.

8. Establish consistent discipline.

Preach the pursuit of excellence. Discipline is the act of consistently performing good habits over an extended period of time. Continually remind your team to focus on the vision.

Be honest, fair and rich in integrity. Demonstrate respect for authority, and constantly ask yourself whether you gave the best of yourself on any given day. Confront problems head on and embrace personal responsibility, which is discipline defined.

9. Turn negatives into positives.

Realize that a positive outlook keeps your players, staff and program motivated. If you are not having a good day, you make it a good day.

Being positive is an attitude, and it requires coaches to block out negativity around them. Surround yourself with positive people.

There are four stages of failure: recognize, admit, learn and forget. Make the big time where you are, and continue to keep the faith in your vision.

Find a way, because one always exists.