Photo Credit: Tim Bates/OJHL Images
Creating a positive team culture has always been the goal of coaches in the locker room. The belief is that players who are responsible, accountable and buy into the team can help lead to more success on the ice. Feeling comfortable around the team can lead to better performance because there are less ‘distractions’ to deal with, and instead players can focus on giving maximum effort.
One of the first steps in building a team culture comes in establishing a combination of goals, values and attitudes that best fit the makeup of the team. As Qualifiers symbolize one of the last chapters of the season, every team is looking to finish the year on a high note. Take a look back on the short and long term goals your team set at the start of the season. Were they met? What changes can be made between now and the final whistle to make sure they are completed? Make a plan of how your team will get there. Not all goals need to be tangible.
Just because your team is now in Qualifiers it doesn’t mean your values have to change. Teams should still be displaying good teamwork, sportsmanship and support of each other. Think about what words you would use to describe your team from both your perspective and from an outsiders view. If you don’t think it’s a fair assessment, show you’re willing to improve it to be the team you want to be.
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Qualifiers are a time of year that needs full commitment from every member of the team. Be responsible and accountable. Everyone is playing with an intensity but being there for your teammates is most important. Lead by example and put in the effort that you’re expecting from the rest of your team. Communicate and work together.
This is not an easy time of year. Patience will be key. Just like in the regular season there will be ups and downs. The toughest games will be the ones that can help build your team the most. Take a deep breath, regroup, and remember you are playing the game you love with your great group of friends.
Coaches can either take an active approach in establishing this culture or have it grow organically within the locker room. This culture will establish what is deemed acceptable on the team and how conflict will be handled. There is never a finished product of team culture, rather a basis for which your team to work off of.
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