Culture Eats Strategy for Lunch – Part 4: Awards – You Improve what you Measure

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One of the easiest places to start when you are establishing a healthy, positive, championship culture is to look at what you are rewarding. In fact, if you and your coaching staff do nothing else but simply start focusing on recognizing and rewarding the right type of behaviors you see in practices and games, the culture of your team will improve dramatically:
  • If your team needs to quit being selfish – then reward the kid who gives the most high-fives during a practice
  • If your team needs to be tougher – then reward the kid who plays to the whistle and dives for the most loose balls
  • If your team needs to work harder – then reward the first kid back from water breaks and who doesn’t cut the corner or short the line when running
6 paradigm-shifting awards you can put in place to have a championship culture:
  1. Year-end Award Banquet – Instead of MVP – reward the MVT – Most Valuable Teammate. Or even better – have 6 awards: Most Improved, one for each of your 4 core covenants, and one for who best exemplified all 4 core covenants. And the same kid can earn multiple awards. Great podcast episode on this: Scott Rosberg (link)
  2. Celebrate a lot!  Kids will work harder when they are having fun! And spend most of your energy ‘Catching them being good.’ If you are focused on teamwork, and one of your big offensive lineman helps a scout team tiny defensive back up after a play and pats him on the butt – stop everything and acknowledge that action and celebrate like crazy!
  3. Levels – Establish levels that require mastering certain skills to move up – then celebrate like crazy when someone advances a level. 2 great podcasts on using this are Melody Shuman (link) and Robert Murphy (link).
  4. Living by numbers
    • Praise progress instead of purely praising results
    • Lee Miller from Elite Hoops Basketball – They have created 15 core drills that can be measured numerically. The focus is on improvement.
    • Quality at Bats – Instead of keeping on-base % or batting average – Keep the stat that rewards the behavior you want – a hard hit ball – Then set your lineup based on the highest Quality-At-Bat %
  5. Daily/practice awards:
    • Hidden victories in a game: taking a charge, diving for loose balls, assists more than goals
    • Leadership award – Who is serving the team? – Trophy passes around each week.
    • ‘Best communicator of the day – talk your actions, especially on defense’
    • Do awards in groups as much as possible – offensive line, etc.
  6. Postgame – spend the time having kids recognize teammates, not talking about all the things you have to fix
Remember, anything you see on the field – you either taught it, or you allowed it. So reward what you want to see!

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