We’ve all been in them, we’re all part of them, and yet we so rarely take the time to appreciate what goes in to making a great team. Whether you’re executive coaching a team, or one of the members in it, every single person plays a vital role.
But like any recipe for success, it starts with a strong leader. That’s not all, it requires a carefully curated pool of talent with a shared vision and goal. If any of these elements are not in harmony, it will fail to reach its potential.
But success is not built overnight. There’s a certain magic, a chemistry, an understanding and appreciation of each other that takes time to mature. The sports coaching job plays a very important role in bringing this united talent together.
Here we look at 15 ingredients required for the perfect team mix:
First and foremost, in team sports there is no room for ego. Everyone must come together to work towards a shared goal. Each individual must completely and wholeheartedly dedicate themselves to the greater good, even if this means taking one for the team. For instance, in Formula 1 we see this with team members giving up pole position to leverage their team member. While in football it’s commonly seen where the most accomplished player takes the penalty.
Simply put – the team recognise that they work for each other. As the saying goes ‘we win as a team, or lose as individuals’.
The role of a sports coach takes many forms, but one of the most important is setting goals. These can be individual goals, but there should always be shared team goals, set by the sports coach. Furthermore, team members need to be motivated to work in unison to achieve these together.
A sports coach that builds a culture of openness, dignity and respect, is one that is going to get the best out of his or her team
Respect starts in training and extends from athletes through to support staff. Respect is important because it breeds trust, and when you’re relying on your team to pull together, you’re nothing without it.
Tap into passion
Passion can’t be taught, but it be expressed and celebrated and it breeds excitement and motivation. But most important of all, passion comes from the top. A sports coach should be driven by their passion for the sport. You can often tell a passionate coach just by looking at their team. The drive, the ambition, the enthusiasm; these are all tell-tale signs of a great leader at work.
Leaders as role models
A sports coach is much more than the person in charge, they are role models too. Sir Alex Ferguson, Bob Woolmer and Patrick Mouratoglo, are just some of the most famous sports coaches the world has known. They didn’t just create sporting heroes, they were also sporting heroes. Acknowledging this, think about the standard you set and how your actions influence your team members.
It’s important to stay consistent as a sports coach. This is important for personal development, as well as for respect. In an industry that promotes routine and sticking to techniques learnt, it’s important to practice what you preach.
You don’t need to be a life coach to know that trust is one of the greatest assets a team can have. It’s important for cohesion, for respect, and for support. Trust takes time of course and starts in training. But once trust is achieved, teams can go on to achieve great things together.
Communication is key
The key to any successful relationship or partnership is good communication. In sports teams this is especially true, since we need to have an open dialogue and respectful understanding of each other.
The sports coach can facilitate this with regular meetings, as individuals and as a team, encouraging athletes to talk openly and candidly.
It is often a matter of inches and seconds, that separates winners from everyone else. That’s why it’s so important for sports coaches to preach the importance of never giving up. In a team, everyone has to pull together, there is nothing more than can be asked than giving it your complete all.
Learning from mistakes
In sports psychology, we learn to focus on the journey as much as the destination. But none of this can be achieved unless we are prepared to learn from our mistakes. Accepting responsibility for our actions, and reflecting back on our wins and loses is all part of this.
Encourage risk taking and creativity
While it’s easy to play it safe, a good leader and sports coach knows that progress can only be made with a touch of risk taking and creativity. As such, it’s important to encourage your team to be brave and move forward with courage. And when they do, this should be rewarded.
Shared vision to work towards
Businesses that enjoy success have a clear vision that all employees work towards. This is the same in sports coaching. Without a shared vision or objective, a team will play to their own personal goals. So it’s essential to have a shared vision for your team.
Reflection as a tool
Post-preparation routines and reflection is important in the role of a sports coach. Looking back at both wins and defeats makes a team more agile, responsive and anything but complacent. Teams should regularly reflect on their performance and progress, in order to move forwards.
Philosophy in practice
In sports coaching courses, you will have reflected on your personal leadership style. In a similar vein, think about how this extends to your team philosophy. Is it about being the best you can be? Perhaps it’s about pushing boundaries? Maybe it’s about creating a culture of trust? Think about what your team values stand for and how these translate in your team ethos.
A well-oiled team is no happy coincidence. It’s the result of long hours, dedication and a clear vision articulated from the executive coach at the top. Key to all of this is having a team that knows their roles, and the roles of their team members. Achieve this, and you’re on the right path to success!
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