It’s the start of a new softball season and hope is in the air. Is your team culture strong enough to win?
If you don’t want all your fall work to go down the drain, you better do a quick culture check.
This time of year begins the “season of hope” where everybody is launching their new softball season with the “hope” of this year being the year. Everybody wants this season to “go right”, for “things to be different”, for everybody to “get on board”, for a “new beginning”, for “us to build on last year”, and so on.
We’ve all got fresh enthusiasm, new teammates to meet, probably new coaches to get to know and definitely new plans for how the season will turn out. Everybody starts off their fall with the hope of having a championship season. And that’s easy to believe in during the fall. There’s no real pressure, no opponents marching in to destroying your hopes and dreams, no umpires making season-changing calls, and no pressure for us all to respond to.
It’s this PRESSURE that determines whether all these plans for success have any chance of coming true. Your team’s ability to stay together, keep supporting and believing in each other and to continue adjusting to all the outside forces that opponents unleash over the course of the season that really determines whether all your preparation will make a difference, and whether all your hopes and dreams will come true.
To prepare for the season we spend hundreds of hours improving our skills, our mental toughness, our strategy. We dive down into our player’s exit velocity, launch angle and our pitcher’s spin efficiency. But all those things live inside the bubble of our Team Culture.
If your Team Culture is too weak to handle the adversity the season throws at you – then forget it. Your team will implode; which means it blows up from the inside! I’ve been around too many teams that didn’t need to play strong opponents to take them out, because they blew up from the inside! Their culture was toxic so at the first sign of adversity or struggle or failure they started playing the blame-game and the blowup was underway.
What if your team culture can’t handle the adversity? What happens to your season when your team culture is toxic? I can tell you right now that nothing good will happen. Your over-talented but under-performing team will lose games it “should win”, on top of losing all the other games. Players will seem like they don’t care, when in reality, their care is being beaten down by the toxic culture.
Culture starts at the top. EVERY team has a culture – it simply means “how we do things around here”. And to find out your true culture, that definition should be amended to read: “How we do things around here when under extreme pressure”.
So, understanding that as the Head Coach, YOU set the culture of your team with everything you say and do – which simply shows its true self when under the most extreme pressure – run a quick check on your team culture. Look at the following questions and answer them Yes or No based on how YOU were during the worst moment of last season.
To make this a truly helpful experience, be totally honest. Don’t answer based on what you think you should say or be like – answer how your players would respond if they were asked these questions about you.
It’s a gut-check to be sure, but as recent events in the college football world have shown us, the head coach sets the culture of the team through everything they do and say.
A healthy team culture will allow your players to be their best selves. It will allow everyone within the team to feel valued and to feel safe. If the culture is supportive then players and coaches will stretch their skills because they won’t fear making mistakes. Fear contaminates effort and a culture of fear contaminates a team.
As you begin a brand-new season with all of its hopes and dreams, pay attention to your team culture – and know that it starts and ends with you, the Head Coach. You expect your players and coaches to put their hard work in this season, and if you do as well, then this truly might be the season you always hoped and dreamed it would be!
If you need more help with your Team Culture, then check out our Team Culture eClinic. Or, if you’d like to get this eClinic, plus TONS more – then become a member of our Vault Classic and start experiencing ALL of Cindy’s great instruction, today!