The Two Modes Of Thinking
There are two camps when it comes to creating a culture of a professional sports team
Winning at all costs V Wellbeing Of Athletes
Some believe winning at all costs is the way to go and some believe the wellbeing of athletes should come first so let’s explore what happens in each of the cultures.
Winning At All Costs
The only thing that matters is winning!
The only athletes you want are the ones that have that desire and hunger to run through walls to win and those that don’t make the grade will fall away, quickly replaced by someone else who wants a piece of the action.
Any mistakes will be punished. The coach has one way to coach and that’s to push the athletes to their limits.
The coach and athletes will knock the opponents down, seek to gain unfair advantages and do what it takes to ensure the win falls in their favour.
Losing is met with anger and extra training sessions and some form of punishment.
Losing brings an almost depressing state of mind as the reality of failure eats away at the minds of those involved.
Wellbeing Of Athletes
From speaking to people in the sports industry, there is a sense that when you put the wellbeing of athletes first, their desire to win will be diluted and their ability to perform under pressure will crack. Some perceive this approach as wrapping the athlete up in cotton wool as if to protect them from a hash reality and to make sure they are comfortable at all times.
This couldn’t be further away from the truth!
Who uses a wellbeing approach?
There are two current coaches I’m aware of that value the wellbeing of their athletes at the elite level and they have won championships by putting the wellbeing to their athletes at the centre of their culture.
I’ll highlight some of the key phrases from articles that demonstrate their approach
Jurgen Klopp – Manager of Liverpool Football Club (Premier league winners 2020)
The first thing Klopp did on arriving at Melwood, Liverpool’s training facility, in 2015 was to memorise the names of each member of the backroom staff, everyone from the kitman to the chefs to the janitor.
It was clear from the start that the Klopp leadership mantra was based on cultivating relationships, bonds nurtured through humour, compassion, and the eagerness to help.
Be it victory or defeat, promise or pain, there was the leader embracing his troops, absorbing their experiences into his own.
Klopp is a rare leader who leads from the front without basking in the spotlight.
“have strong people around you with a better knowledge in different departments than yourself” is something Klopp has regularly acknowledged, stressing that a manager cannot “act like you know everything.”
Steve Kerr – Head Coach Of The Golden State Warriors (NBA champions 2015/17/18)
“My success stems from my players and the team as a whole. None of this is about me.”
Kerr is famous for always working to hone his leadership and coaching style.
“No matter what field you’re in, you’re managing human beings.” That’s why communication and compassion are so important to him, and how he builds trust and rapport.
Yelling and “tough love” is no longer viable in professional sports.
“When I hear a coach saying I treat everyone the same, I don’t trust that coach. I’ve learned you have to treat each individual according to what that person needs.”
More People Understand The Value Of Putting Wellbeing At The Centre Of Player Development
There is a shift in attitudes towards the power and value of creating a wellbeing culture for professional sports team and blogs like this, and other programmes, articles and individuals are pushing wellbeing more towards the spotlight that shines over professional sports and moving away from the ‘Winning At All Costs’ cultures.
Creating this type of culture within your team has shown it can lead to winning just as Klopp and Kerr have proven.
Let me ask you a question
Would you rather be involved with a team where the manager/coach believes they know it all, they tell the players how good they are, how bad they are, no questions asked, highlight their mistakes to prove to them he’s the boss and when you win it was down to them? Players play through Fear!
Be involved with a team that supports each other, where the manager wants the players to be the best they can be and understand their individual needs and questions and ideas can be aired for the purpose of finding a small margin of improvement? Players play with freedom!
“When the person is feeling valued, trusted and respected, the athlete thrives“
Listen, I understand creating this type of culture isn’t easy for some people, but if your team has had a losing season let me ask you this…
Knowing a wellbeing culture works and brings wins, wouldn’t you be curious as to how you can learn more and implement this culture?