Book Review: You Win in the Locker Room First--Consistent Communication


In this series of blogs, we are reviewing the new book from Jon Gordon and Mike Smith, You Win in the Locker Room First. This is a great book filled with tips, reminders and suggestions about how to build a team culture and create a winning attitude with not just players and coaches, but the entire organization.

The first blog in our series focused on the first two C's the book mentions, Culture and Contagious. This blog will highlight the next two C's in the book: Consistency and Communication.

Both Mike Smith and Jon Gordon talk about how consistency is the key to building trust among your organization. Staying true to who you truly are and being fully present in the moment with players and staff on a consistent basis will help you build the foundation for a strong culture. One of the best ways to remain consistent is to continue to try and improve and show your team your commitment.

Communication forms the foundation of any relationship. And when there are voids in communication, negativity has a tendency to fill those voids. The goal with communication is to have healthy and honest conversation. Being able to listen is extremely important as is being able to ask the right people the right questions. Both Mike and Jon talk about the importance of communicating on a one-on-one basis as much as you can with every member of the organization to get their buy-in and support.

Mike advocates creating themes in messaging for the team and then echoing those messages over and over. He suggests making sure to model the messaging as well as verbally repeat it to really hit home with the players. And sometimes it doesn't hurt to bring in outside voices to reinforce the message and present it to the organization in a slightly different way.

The next two C's in the book that we will tackle next week are Connect and Commitment.

Keepin' it Positive

lifting a trophy - KEEPIN' IT POSITIVE

Winners win because they believe, without a doubt, that they can. Winning isn't just trying not to lose. It takes focused, positive energy to take players from envisioning their best performance and combining it with the forward momentum of the team to win.

We are surrounded by negativity everyday: news and social media, fan criticism, self-doubt. It is imperative that the team environment be buoyed by as much of a positive culture as can be generated, and that positivity begins with the coach.

Researchers in sport psychology suggest that 80%-90% of reinforcement from a coach should be positive.* On the field feedback should reward positive behavior in the form of what a player might best respond to. What should you use for your carrot? Ask your players. 

For some players, verbal or nonverbal praise may be just the ticket to creating that positive culture. Consider taking that step once further by encouraging the player to also spread that praise to teammates when they are truly doing well. And consider having the player acknowledge his successes to himself. This will help stave self-doubt and provide a platform for intrinsic motivation.

Beyond rewards for positive behavior, providing an environment for success can go a long way in establishing a culture of positivity. Set challenges that are just outside your athletes' comfort zones, but make them attainable. Allow your players to push themselves and know that success is achievable, again and again.

While some coaches see some success with negative reinforcement, that success is temporary. You are not just building a team player by player and season by season. You are building an entire culture that will constantly evolve and stand on its own, a legacy if you will. A legacy of positivity will help you attract top talent and create successful futures for your athletes long after they come off the field.…