top of page

Culture Series - Pt. 2/5

“You don’t inspire your teammates by showing them how amazing you are. You inspire them by showing them how amazing they are.” - Robyn Benincasa

In this five part series about building a Positive Team Culture, I will share some insight into what I have learned from some amazing coaches at the professional, high school, and youth levels. I will also share practical examples that I have used with the teams I coached (only the really good stuff, not the things that failed miserably haha!)

How do you create a safe environment?

A new team brings a plethora of emotions: excitement, hope, nervousness, stress, eagerness, etc.

It’s vital to create team standards that everyone can execute regardless of skill level. They need to be concise, defined by the team for what they look/sound like within the team context, and agreed upon (every member needs to sign something that agrees to the standards). A consequence can be determined by the team if standards are not followed. Having the team standards on a sign so they are visible everyday is a great way to make sure they are consistently on the minds of everyone apart of the team. Creating a safe and inclusive environment by using team standards is ingredient #2 in building a championship culture.

Our basketball team standards this past season:

  1. Be a great teammate (give high-fives, use positive talk to encourage teammates, clap, use names of teammates when communicating to them, make eye contact, help teammates up off the ground, cheer for them when on the bench, huddle up to communicate and stay connected, look out for each other on and off the court, etc.)

  2. Try your best (anything less than your best effort, focus, and execution will not be accepted if you truly want to be the best you can be)

  3. Have fun (We are playing a game! Smile, laugh, relax, and enjoy every second of playing with people who care about you and want you to with JOY)

Everyone on our team can do these three things, every day.

A few practical examples of what we did to truly live these standards:

  • During our dynamic warm-up, one player loudly yells the name of the stretch and the rest of the team repeats back. As they travel from one sideline to the other, they chat with the person next to them while stretching. The team circles up after the dynamic warm-up and proceeds to do ten synchronized pushups and they count together as a team. Immediately after they finish, they jump up from the ground and walk around and give teammates high fives. We then put our arms around each other, circle up, and discuss the practice plan for the day. Anyone is free to speak up during this time if they have something valuable to share with the team.

  • We do a defensive slide drill that requires a lot of effort and energy. When the first person finishes the drill, they start walking towards their teammates to give them a high five. Everyone follows suit and by the end there is a huge high five line going. We then jog over to the other side and do the same thing.

  • After a few drills, we stop and I will say, “1 minute water break, give five teammates a high-five before you get water”, which has definitely helped improve our team culture.

During games:

  • If a player subs out of the game, they give a high five to their teammate and communicates to them where to be positioned on defense before jogging to the bench. The bench stands up and gives the player subbing out a high five.

  • Every time we score, our team stands up and claps/cheers.

  • We huddle up after a shooting foul is called. There are 5-10 seconds of transition time after a shooting foul is called and we try to maximize that time by putting our arms around each other and communicating a message. It also displays UNITY, especially during moments of adversity.

  • If a player on our team or the other team falls over, we sprint over and help them up.

  • After a timeout, we jog onto the court to give all five players a high five to encourage them. We then put our arms around each other and huddle up so everyone is fully aware of what was discussed during the :30 or :60 second timeout!

A lot of these skills are transferable at work, within families, friend groups…they are all about supporting each other, trying your best, and having fun!

Everyone can be a great teammate…the choice is yours!


Thank you for reading and please feel free to reach out if I can help in anyway!

Sending positive vibes,

Dan Horwitz

57 views0 comments


bottom of page