Understand the powerful importance of creating a healthy culture in a program.  

If you have not yet read "The Culture Code" by Dan Coyle (and his bestselling books "The Talent Code" and "The Little Book of Talent), I urge you to find a copy and read it as soon as you can. I think it is that valuable.

Thanks to the advance copy the author sent me, I have recently been reflecting on the culture in my past programs. One of my core principles is understanding how important, and how much work it is, to build rather than tear things down. In clinics, I tell a story (imagine that) using the building that we all are in together. Using guided discovery, I ask, "What did it take to build this place? How many years of planning and building? More than a hundred highly educated experts in their fields, including architects, landformers, plumbers, electricians, builders galore, painters, interior designers and decorators, and many more, worked to create the building."

Then, I ask, "What does it take to tear this place down? A couple of people with not even a high school education, a big bulldozer, and a few days."

So many choose the path of tearing things down, as it is vastly easier than the long process of building.

Make sure to guide your program to be building, i.e. process-focused. If the words in your gym (or mind) are not helpful/building, stay quiet. Help your “team around the team” to be one which includes good people. Communicate well with them and focus on what you all can control, starting with your strengths as your focus. If you have not yet joined, take time to sign up for the closed Facebook group Volleyball Coaches and Trainers (VCT) which is nearing 17,000 collaborating coaches from around the world.

Another core part of even our national team programs is to simply celebrate the success of your teammates more than your own. It is not needed so much in individual sports (although, think of how great USA Swimming builds and shows their team culture in a mostly individual sport), but in team sports, especially volleyball which in many ways is the ultimate of team sports, this focus of “We before Me” is too often not developed. The motto over the VCT group fits here, too: “Say what you mean; mean what you say; don’t be mean when you say it.”

This building focus also nurtures a growth mindset and shared sense of purpose focus. Plenty of information has been written about that, too. It’s key to have that process focus, working with your team of passionate people. I must share the best article I have read in the last year, in which top coach Tom Crean wrote in Sports Illustrated about his gap year, where he found time to spend with all sort of great coaches. He discovered that hard work does not have to be drudgery (you can have joy and fun). I loved his final sentence: “It’s not what you see and hear, it’s what you feel.”

Thanks for helping us grow the game together.