When it comes to team culture there are 3 things that will destroy or make or break it. None of them have to do with performance like many might think. Being a good teammate means treating your teammates and coaches with respect. You might think it only comes down to how you personally treat someone, but there’s more. If I treat you well in person, but behind your back make faces that show disrespect that’s not being a good teammate. Good and bad behavior is contagious.
Your leadership can make a team full of leaders.
Bad facial expressions might be the number one cause of unhealthy team culture…
What is an unhealthy facial expression?
- Looking at each other smiling when the coach is talking to the group. Even if it’s not intended to be mocking the coach or a teammate it looks bad and shows disrespect. It’s like whispering to each other in front of other people.
- Looking mad because the coach gets on to you. If you watch pros who get told off by the coach, you’ll see them looking at the coach in the eyes and showing with their face that they understand and will correct what is needed. The pros that you see arguing with the coach are not acting like a professional.
- Showing a bored face when the coach is talking.
- Not making eye contact with your coach. You don’t have to stare at him/her but you do need to look at them most of the time, especially when they are talking directly to you.
- Sitting on the bench mocking a teammate on the field who’s doing bad. Your facial expressions are a way of communication, so be careful with your reactions at all times.
The words you say
Saying something mean is the most disrespectful because you’re not hiding how you feel at all. Words make it clear to someone.
2 ways your words can hurt team culture:
- Blatant / aggressive words that are obviously meant to hurt the person.
- Saying something with a “nice” sounding tone, but with the intent to hurt someones feelings.
Don Yaeger a pro athlete motivational coach has a great podcast episode with Jay Bilas on Leadership and Body Language.
Body language matters
Bad body language can happen in many forms…
It could be a player who stops working hard after a coach or teammate gets on to them for making a mistake.
Part of being an athlete is being able to take criticism like a professional. As a former pro myself and now a skills trainer, it’s awesome to see a player take correction/criticism in a mature way.
Substitution time is a big one…
© matimix / Depositphotos.com
It’s always interesting to see pro players on TV get subbed off. You can tell they’re not happy, but they shake the coaches hand and don’t throw a fit.
Nobody wants to come out of the game, but it’s tactically one of the most important parts of soccer/futbol. Fresh legs can change the game.
I coached my youngest daughters rec team from age 7-9 and one thing I made clear was when the girls were subbed off they better have good body language. It only took a few games for them to learn and correct their body language. It’s best to learn team culture young and early in the season.
When you’re on the bench, make sure you are watching the game and sitting with good posture. When the coach looks at the bench to see who he/she wants to put in make sure you look at them and show you want to play.
How to be aware of your body language on the pitch
Many kids are simply not aware of their body language… Example: When doing a drill or even in a game, a player might be standing when they should be walking or running into position.
If you watch a really high level game, especially pros, you’ll notice none of them are standing. The funny part that you might not have noticed is that most of them are walking… This might sound bad, but it’s actually normal and correct. Only 3-4 players will be sprinting, a few jogging and the rest are usually walking into place. With 1 ball, a big field full of players not everyone should be running all at once.
Players, when you’re not near the ball be aware of your surroundings and make sure you’re always moving with the ball – even if it’s walking into place/position. As a player, you must remind yourself in every practice!
Coaches, please remember to remind your players and then be patient with them. Youth soccer players are like puppies, it takes tons of reminding, correcting and patience. Before you know it they are trained.
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