Giving Your Athletes a Voice

More and more coaches are taking a collaborative approach when it comes to team rules and culture. With today’s generation, buy-in happens more readily when players have a say in the development of the team.

John Krikorian, Head Men’s Basketball Coach at Christopher Newport University and recipient of the 2016 Glenn Robinson National Coach of the Year Award, believes in the concept whole-heartedly. At CNU, Krikorian says team members have an active say in everything, from what drills they run in practice to what uniform and shoe combinations they wear.

“The younger players see every day how things are done and eventually, the team builds a culture that can stand on its own,” Krikorian says. “The final piece of the process is when your players take complete ownership, and you feel supremely confident that they will do the right thing in any situation.”

Stephen Cosgrove, Head Girls’ Basketball Coach at Lassiter High School in Marietta, Ga., agrees. He takes players on a weekend preseason retreat every year, during which they collaborate to develop the team’s core values, vision, and behavioral standards for that season. The past season’s core values were: family, communication, teamwork, and trust.

“There are going to be times when things get really tough, but these core values are what we need to hold true to everyday—no matter what happens,” Cosgrove says. “The players have to be as involved as they possibly can be in creating that in order to be fully committed.”

Scott Rosberg, a former high school athletic director and basketball coach and current team-culture consultant, director of CoachWithCharacter.com, and speaker for Proactive Coaching, is a proponent of using “core covenants,” a concept he learned from Bruce Brown, Director of Proactive Coaching. These are guiding principles determined by the players and collectively treated as a binding agreement between all players and coaches. The intentional nature of the process adds a layer of personal responsibility and leads to holding each other accountable.

“The biggest difference between a good team and a great team is the number of players who are completely committed to the covenants,” Rosberg says.

During Rosberg’s final season as Head Boys’ Basketball Coach at Park High School in Livingston, Mont., his players chose the following four core covenants: keep a team-first mentality, compete with relentless perseverance, trust each other, and be ruled by discipline. “I didn’t come in and say, ‘These are our covenants,’” Rosberg explains, adding that each season, the number of players who went out for basketball at Park High increased. “Some coaches do that. But you’ll get more buy-in when your kids are involved in the process.”

 

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