Team & Performance Environments


JULY, 2020

Coaches are the environmental engineers who establish what the culture will be within a team. Many coaches I have been around want to have a very competitive team but sometimes use methods that are counterproductive. Most of them want to do better but don’t know how to do it.

Understanding sport psychology and how we can help develop athletes along with the physical development will create a strong, resilient, and tough team. Sometimes one of the best ways to build something is to not destroy it in the process. There are two main environments the research points to. One is a mastery environment and the other is a competitive environment. Most coaches want a very competitive team but you can actually set your team up to destroy itself from inside out.

A MASTERY ENVIRONMENT is a positive constructive culture → Productive

The FOCUS is on the Process or (Deliberate Practice)

Here are some examples of process oriented practice situations:

  • Players competing with themselves (Personal record’s, technique work, fundamentals, mental and physical skills)
  • Players competing with each other (1-on-1 drills, 2-on-2 drills, 7 on 7 drills, etc.)

A COMPETITIVE ENVIRONMENT is a negative destructive culture  → Counter-productive

The FOCUS is on the Outcome or (Winning)

  • Competing against the environment (No autonomy – freedom to make decisions, no relatedness – lack of relationships, no competency – not being taught sufficient skills and fundamentals.
    • Having little to no Autonomy, Relationship building, and Competence development diminish intrinsically motivated athletes who are also known as self-starters. (Athletes become scared to make mistakes i.e. fear of failure.)
  • Players are competing against the coaches (Us against them mentality as opposed to developing a  Family culture and atmosphere)
  • Competing against each other (I want dominate you [teammate] vs. we, individually and as a team need to improve our technique and fundamentals)

Mental toughness and physical toughness are not the same. One does have an impact on the other but they should be trained using proper skill development. There are physical skills to develop physical traits and there are mental skills to develop mental traits. When they are developed this is where the magic happens. I encourage you to do your own research and look for information to help develop mental skills just like you search for the next best drill in practice.

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