How Does the Culture of a Club Become Unique?

creating a culture

18/11/2019

We have the same jerseys, the same tracksuits,

the same love of winning,

the same way of …

These are just the marks of a club that help us recognise each other.

Does this make us unique?

No.

It’s something that is easy to organise and learn.

Creating a culture has a deeper effect and makes a more substantial change.

It consists of common ideas, outlooks on the game, a system of values, i.e. all the activities of club members.

PLAYING AND TRAINING

An important step is creating a recognisable style of training and play. 

It doesn’t necessarily have to be different than that of other clubs, but it has to have a logical course from the youngest players all the way to the seniors. 

The basic idea of how we train and play is developed in everyday interaction between coaches, and is always being improved with new details. They are taken from experience and notes on the evolution of training methods and the development of handball.

The most important question is:

Why?

Coaches should know why they are implementing a certain model of training and playing.

The goal should be a clearly defined style of play in the senior category, and the course of learning should be logical since some knowledge is based on specific previous knowledge and acquiring it is incomplete if the player doesn’t know the basics.

Coaches need to know why something is important for a specific age group,

and it doesn’t matter if the younger players don’t yet know something that the seniors do.

Experience has shown that it is very difficult to form a group of coaches who work with younger players and who understand and want to implement a unique work programme.

The most common reason for this is ego.

Coaches who have large egos have trouble accepting a role in which their main job isn’t personal promotion through the victories they achieve through creating shortcuts and automatising children, but through the quality learning of basic handball knowledge.

We have the same jerseys,

the same tracksuits,

the same love of winning,

the same…

These are just the marks of a club that help us recognise each other.

Does this make us unique?

No.

It’s something that is easy to organise and learn.

Creating a culture has a deeper effect and makes a more substantial change.

It consists of common ideas, outlooks on the game, a system of values, i.e. all the activities of club members.

VALUES

Values are universal principles which are above everyday events, feelings, desires, or goals.

Values should be defined by using simple phrases or a single word.

Most importantly, a community has to implement these values in everyday life.

There are two ways to create a system of values.

One is to determine them, which is usually made by the people who lead a club, and to then spread them among everyone.

This is a fast method with a usually insurmountable problem: a lot of people see it as someone imposing a system of values on them, and this causes them to fight against it.

A slower, but more effective method is to recognise our common values, and then define and nurture them in everyday interaction.

It may seem simple, but sometimes it isn’t.

Here is an example of a club that has ‘respect’ as one of their main values:

It is easy to respect a team player, the coach, or the president of the club.

The team culture is more obvious after a defeat than after a victory.

Do we respect someone who has beaten us or do we hate them?

Do we respect someone we have beaten or do we want to humiliate them?

There is a divine purpose behind everything

and therefore a divine presence in everything.

– Neale Donald Walsch –

What is unity in a club, and how do we recognise and affect it?

Unity is not a state in which we all think the same, a space where everyone is friends and the club has no problems.

Every member of the management board, every fan, coach, and player have strengths and weaknesses. Good clubs are those where the strengths are multiplied, and the weaknesses subtracted. 

Unity is chemistry which enables the whole to be larger than the sum of its parts.

The tool that either builds or destroys unity is communication. Good communication defuses tensions created by differences between people, while bad communication creates tensions where there shouldn’t be any.

The biggest enemy of unity is ego. The walls built by ego between people are difficult to knock down and to much energy is spend on going around them, so there isn’t much time left to build a good club.

The consequence of this kind of performance is that there are clubs formed within a club. 

Management board members have “their people in their club”,

coaches have “their teams”,

and players have “their groups in the changing room”.

Personal interest becomes the most important thing to people, and they don’t care about the overall improvement of the club. 

Their narrow viewpoint means they can’t see that they will achieve personal improvement more easily if the club becomes better.

On the other hand, better cooperation with a common goal in mind means people will put in more effort. It is important to understand that cooperation does not mean single-mindedness, but honest and open communication, because only honest and open communication enables everyone to accept differences in opinions and the creation of a common vision.

”Write drunk, revise sober.”

– Peter De Vries –

Who chooses coaches and on what criteria? 

And players?

The most important responsibility in creating and maintaining unity is that of the management board of a club. 

Their job is to find competent people,

place them on appropriate positions within the club structure,

and maintaining a culture of honest and open communication.

The coaches are probably the second most important actors in spreading unity because they have direct, everyday influence on all players. 

More ambitious coaches are usually a setback in this process because they are held by their own ambition and can’t see the importance of unity.

Since ambition stems from vanity, this type of coach is not capable of understanding the importance of common goals, and creates a “club within a club” where the point of “his team” is only his personal promotion…

Feelings of belonging to a club, creation of long-term friendships within a team, helping co-workers, long-term progress of the club, etc., are not the primary goals in his mind, but rather an accidental result that happens against his will.

A “worse coach” with a good value system is better for a club than an ambitious “top-notch coach” who is unable to cooperate.

Characteristics we should develop are communication skills, willingness to help, compassion/empathy, reliability, ability to learn,…

Unity, improvement, and wins will be something we won’t have to worry about if we bring people with these characteristics to the club and work diligently on  improving them in other people in the club.

COMMUNICATION

Excessive communication is still an exaggeration, as much as we are used to it.

The image we have created by watching matches on TV about a coach who has the knowledge and cares, consists of two important parts. One part is constantly communicating with players, referees, and assistants, and the other is an emotional reaction.

We see verbal communication as the transmission of important information and confirmation of the coach’s knowledge, and we see the emotional reaction as a confirmation that he cares about the method of raising energy or self-confidence of the player he leads.

Mostly we don’t wonder if he talks nonsense to the players or maybe he talks all the time because of the audience’s judgment, and most often it doesn’t occur to us that (too) many emotions is a consequence of his emotional imbalance.

For a coach who doesn’t do that, we conclude that he doesn’t care or that he is ignorant, or both.

In professional sports, such assessments are part of public opinion, and coaches who deal with it know that they are public figures and they see it as part of the job.

When we create the culture of a club, is this a good model?

Is the same true in leading children?

IN THE CLUB

People who don’t speak

when they have nothing to say have great value in the club. 

Almost every activity in the club starts and spreads through some communication channel. These channels are meetings, conversations, phone calls, or text and voice messages.

People who are most emotionally aggressive in these situations dominate if they are hierarchically superior or equal, and often when their status is inferior. Their aggressiveness is manifested through constant talking, interrupting other participants in the conversation, and often through raising the tone of voice and increased decibels.

If such persons were the wisest, their intrusiveness would not be a problem as the followers would spread their wisdom and the club would thrive. However, the wisest people are almost never the most aggressive because one trait excludes the other.

What has been described is very often a strong developmental brake because it is in the nature of such relationships that others do not honestly express their opinion, and the consequences are different forms of behavior. Obedience. Disinterest. Passive resistance. Insincerity. The departure of the best people to other clubs. Etc.

The imposed opinion of an aggressive individual is a topic on which people around him spend most of their energy, thus reducing the efficiency of the system, whether this opinion is uncritically implemented or obstructed.

People who speak

when they have something to say have great value in the club.

Honest transmission of ideas behind a deep understanding of the process in the club, reflection, and willingness to take responsibility in the implementation, is of immeasurable value.

Creating a stimulating environment is the responsibility of the people who run the club, and it is the personal responsibility of each individual who is in such an environment to actively participate in the creation and implementation of such activities.

The biggest problem with this part of communication is introverted people and people who are afraid of other people’s opinions due to experiences from toxic environments. However, in a stimulating environment, it is their responsibility to overcome personal barriers and actively participate in creating a club culture, both verbally and non-verbally.

WORKING WITH CHILDREN

HOW DOES CONSTANT TALKING AFFECT CHILDREN DURING THE MATCH?

Coaches who talk constantly during the match generally do so in two ways:

  1. They try to be emotionally positive
  2. They don’t try to control their emotions

The coach from the first group mostly has a positive impact on Philip. He praises his good moves during the match, and when he wants to point out something, he usually does it as follows:

“Philip, you tried to pass the ball to Ivan, but maybe you’d better pass it to Peter.”

The coach from the second group in such situations reacts more directly and more or less loudly expresses his opinion:

“Pass the ball to Peter!!!!”, “Why didn’t you pass to Peter???”, or “Don’t pass the ball!!!”

An exercise that could help coaches with the need to constantly express their opinions could look like this:

During the match, the mentor or fellow coach sits next to the coach and repeats everything he does. Every time the coach says, “Philip, you tried to pass the ball to Ivan, but maybe you’d better pass it to Peter.”

The mentor tells him, “Dude, you said that well to Philip, but maybe you’d better advise him to shoot.”

Or in the case of a more emotional colleague:

“Pass the ball to Peter!!!!”, “Why didn’t you pass to Peter???”, or “Don’t pass the ball!!!”

“Tell him where to pass the ball!!!”, “Why didn’t you tell him earlier???”, or “Don’t tell him that!!!”

And so the whole match. and after the match asks the coach:

“How are you feeling?”

“What did you learn from this match?”

The coach is a more experienced person so it will be easier to accept comments, but one should believe that he can feel how Filip and his friends feel during the game with this kind of leadership and what they can learn by constantly receiving a lot of information from the environment.

In the club, a coach who says nothing to children

when he has nothing to say is of great value.

With children struggling to understand the coach’s words, his constant talking results in a lack of time and energy for his own thoughts and decisions. For some, it creates fatigue over time, for some resistance, for some a drop in concentration, etc.

Only a few are able to separate the important from the unimportant during the match and learn from the useful information that the coach conveys.

Most, however, find a way to protect personal integrity, and that protection usually consists of ignoring, and the bad consequence is that the coach has a hard time reaching children when he says something important.

This impact is multiplied by the amount of emotion the coach shares with the children in those moments.

There is a reason why we have two eyes,

two ears,

and only one mouth.

How do we determine how much emotion and information we will pass on to club members and the children we lead?

By constantly talking and over-expressing emotions, we mostly create harm, and by keeping silent and suppressing emotions, we obstruct progress because we deny our influence on events and the environment.

Both are wrong in creating a quality relationship.

We should be responsible and find a balance and each of us should do so at all times.

The first step is to separate the important from the unimportant.

In situations that are unimportant, it is unnecessary to speak and react emotionally, and in situations that are important, it is irresponsible to remain silent.

If the game is just one step in Philip’s growing up, how many games are there that require a strong emotional response from the coach?

If we know that something happens to and around Philip during every second of every match, how many of these events are so important that we need to explain something to him about them?

It is our job to recognize such matches and such events and to react in a balanced way to them.

In order to be able to do this well, it is necessary to carefully observe what is happening with Philip, and for that we should focus on Philip, not on ourselves.

Verbal and emotional expression is a process that is directed from the coach to Philip.

So, the direction is the opposite of what is wanted.

By observing the relationship between actively observing and expressing our opinion during a match, we will easily assess the extent to which we are focused on Philip and the extent to which we are focused on ourselves.

It is analogous to the culture of the club.

Self-centered people generally do not see the needs of the club and it is not objective that they will respond to them in a quality and timely manner. Focusing on fulfilling personal wishes, covering up fears, or achieving one’s own goals distracts attention from building a quality club community or work system.

People who see their well-being through the well-being of the club have a responsibility to communicate the processes they see in a timely manner, because it is often the case that not recognizing opportunities for progress is the biggest obstacle in the long-term development of the club.

Creating and maintaining daily verbal and emotional balance in communication in times when everything is good and in difficult times ensures the continuity of good interpersonal relationships.

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