“We have to have a multi-dimensional approach to grow the person first and the player second if we want to have a lasting, meaningful impact on the people we work with.”
- Brad Ledbetter: What Drives Winning
As coaches, we are expected to provide the physical and mental training for player development to occur in our specific sport. Why limit our influence to these specific skills? The transformational experience happens for the athlete when we can find a way to offer a lasting and meaningful ability to develop the whole person. Creating opportunities for lifetime success through dynamic sport experiences is the essence of coaching. One way we can provide this type of higher level understanding is through the development of a team belief system.
This spring I am coaching the Savannah Arts Academy Panthers Girls Soccer team. Over the course of numerous years, my belief system has adapted to accept that intentionally designed team culture that features personal development is the decisive factor for group cohesion and can assist with enhancing future life success opportunities. With this idea in mind; at a portion of a training session that took us 48 minutes; we created our Vision, Mission, and Core Values which were organized in an image by Sophie Horan that can be found below.
In putting our vision, mission, and core values in to writing, we are stating the unique reason our team is in existence. Throughout the season, the deeper meaning we are finding for participation will provide a sense of direction and focus for what we do. We now have a board that comes to all practices and games with us featuring the created image so as a group we can intentionally discuss our beliefs, processes, and how we will reach a lifestyle of excellence in all that we do. Creating our belief system has been a powerful tool for our group and I know it will give other groups a similar impact. Here is how we worked together to create out beliefs.
Initially, all 24 players were asked to bring paper and a pen to training. Our first task was to create our Core Values. Working in partners, each group selected five words that they associated with being a member of our team. That night I calculated which words and their synonyms were the most listed. I brought that list back to the captains the next day and we came up with the acronym PANTHERS which includes persistence, ambitious, noteworthy, teamwork, hardworking, enthusiastic, respectful, and successful. Over the course of the last week prior to walking through our mindset gate, we have defined each word as a team and are beginning to live the core values.
Next, we created our team vision. Once again we began working in partners. Players were told the vision must have the following characteristics:
- Define our future state.
- Memorable, short and to the point.
- Align with our core values.
The team was read numerous examples of vision statements and then given six minutes to work on creating a vision with their partner. Next, groups combined to make four participants and a new vision was written using the previous documents. Combining into new groups seemed to encourage deeper thinking and the ability of the players to develop new relationships where they felt comfortable in discussing a complicated topic. In our next step of the process, we moved into groups of twelve where each group then created a new vision to present to the other group. Once presented, the entire group of 24 players came together and wrote our team vision which is: Reaching greatness through hard work that develops a lifestyle of excellence. Intentional discussions now happen daily on what hard work looks like on and off the field in order to reach greatness. We also talk about how we can further develop a lifestyle of excellence and what that looks like in various facets of the individuals life. Our discussions with our vision our continually centered around growth and what we hope to become.
Our final piece of the puzzle was creating our team mission statement. The process of constructing this portion of our beliefs matched up precisely with the creation of the vision statement as far as our process. The difference was the players were told the mission must have the following characteristics:
- The mission explains our process in reaching the vision. Think: What do we do?
- Clear and concise. One sentence if possible.
- Action words of how we will get to the vision.
After reading a few examples, the team set to work and created the following statement: Committing to a daily process of achieving maximum mental and physical potential on and off the field. What does this daily process look like? We talk about it almost everyday before, during and after the session or game. Development happens for us with maximum mental and physical effort being put forth on a daily basis on the field. As we intentionally discuss the concept of effort on and off the field, I believe that the creation of our mission statement will give increased purpose in the classroom and when working towards success later in life.
Our Savannah Arts Academy Girls Soccer vision, mission, and core values hold us accountable everyday. The players created the document and the more we talk about the concepts, each player feels increased ownership in living up to the standards of our program. All team issues that may come up, I immediately bring up the expectations of our belief system and discuss seasonal possibilities through the ideas generated in the vision, mission, and core values.
The creation of the vision, mission, and core values has promoted team cohesion while enhancing individual accountability. With our belief system in place, I can now begin to offer a lasting and meaningful experience with an increased opportunity for lifetime success through dynamic sport experience.
Empowering athletes, families, coaches, and organizations to create opportunities for lifetime success,
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