Culture Eats Strategy for Lunch – Part 3: Which dog are you feeding?

Feeding the Positive Dog
I recently have started reading Jon Gordon’s The Energy Bus. The entire book is about the power of positive energy, and one of the great analogies he uses is how we have the choice whether to feed the positive dog inside of us or the negative one. The choice is ours. The same is true for the teams we coach. Are we going to create a positive atmosphere where everyone can thrive, or are we going to let energy vampires suck the life out of the program. Here are some great ways to build a positive culture and feed the positive dog:
  • Alan Stein – ‘You get what you bring as a coach’ – If you bring enthusiasm, and model the behavior you are preaching, and expect excellence of yourself – most of the time the players will respond in kind.
  • You have to deep down truly believe in each kid and what they can accomplish – then constantly be pushing them to where you know they can go. ‘When you take the time to teach your boys, there’s an implied confidence, that you believe they can achieve, and that’s praise in itself” – Coach John Wooden
  • Positive Conditioning – The winners get to run?!
    • You have to put all your attention/effort into recognizing the kids who are earning the right to run.
    • For poor effort: ‘You guys just lost your chance to become better. You lost your chance to condition.’
    • Learn more on how to do this from Scott Rosberg at Proactive Coaching on his podcast where he discusses this: Podcast link
  • Have kids play free:
    • Don’t pull them immediately after a mistake, if you do they will start to play tight and in fear.
    • ‘Make the right lacrosse play. Make the right decision and we’ll live with the results.’
    • Growth Mindset – we are a team that will: Teach kids that failing is a highly valuable part of the improvement process.  Eliminate pressure on the kids that makes them afraid to make mistakes.  Kids are often getting pressure from family members, parents, grandparents, uncles – so as a coach you have to be intentional to not negatively.
    • Will Cromack: Set goals to try a new move during a game that you have been working on in practice: ‘Who is going to be brave enough to try this new move during the game this week?’
  • Count high fives in a practice. Then try to beat that number in future practices.
  • Echo the coach’s commands – This echoing becomes fun for the kids and gets them all involved, and increases the energy level in the practice.
  • Say ‘Go make a great catch’ instead of ‘don’t drop this pass.’ When communicating instructions from the sideline – be careful not to go 0 for 2 – meaning your communication had: 1- a negative tone, and 2- no instructional value. Yelling ‘play harder’ or ‘catch the ball’ are examples of 0 for 2 communication.

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