teamworkA positive sports environment will look different for all groups involved; including the athlete, family, and coach. Player participation and fun increase when all groups influencing the athlete work in harmony. The group cohesion then leads to the establishment of a positive sports environment.
A positive sports environment is a byproduct of the leadership of the team, group, or organization intentionally determining that positive relationships and actions within athletic endeavors have an effect of creating an increased opportunity for lifetime success for the athlete. This process does not happen magically and is often overlooked by coaches and organizational leaders. Only through intentional actions, such as enacting the Educated Coaches Core Values, can the environment be shaped to have such a dramatic impact on the participant.
 Examples from each perspective on what a positive sports environment looks like are listed below.
Athlete’s Perspective
  • Has fun learning and developing skills and ability at the chosen athletic endeavor

  • Is enthusiastic about attending practice and does not want to leave.  Often arrives early. Is upbeat, laughing, and smiling throughout the session

  • Enjoys training and often trains on own outside of established practice times

  • Appreciates spending time with other members of the team and their families on and off the field

  • Defines success using goal-setting to have a complete understanding of how to win for a day, week, month, season, and lifetime

  • Takes great pride in stating they are a member of the team or group in which they train and play.

Coach’s Perspective

  • Places the needs of others first and helps people develop and perform as well as possible

  • Selects appropriate activities to ensure athletes are having fun and are learning in a cooperative and competitive on-field training environment

  • Teaches using the effective and appropriate methodology for the age of participants

  • Promotes the process of personal development over results

  • Offers mentorship opportunities for participants within the program

  • Increases knowledge through coaching courses, books, videos, or mentor relationships

Family Perspective

  • Supports and encourages athletes, coaches, and all teammates on and off the field

  • Mutual respect between family, coach, athletes, and other families involved in the group, knowing that they are all here for the same purpose: creating the appropriate environment to foster lifetime success for the athlete

  • Understands that learning and fun are the significant goals their athlete strives towards during all training sessions and games

  • Ensures car rides to and from training and games are pleasant and loving

  • Uses appropriate sideline behavior by cheering on all successful plays while understanding other impressionable people are watching

  • Accepts that child will most likely not become a professional athlete while cherishing the process of creating long-lasting shared memories

These perspectives on a positive sports environment are only realized when the organization or team leadership realizes that success is more than winning the game or winning the league championship. Success is understanding the process to win for a lifetime. The leadership must educate all groups to ensure that an overall positive sports environment is created.

Sports have the opportunity to be a significant factor over the course of a lifetime for many participants when an appropriate sports environment is put in place.

Brad Nein is a coach, speaker, consultant, writer, and leader; he teaches others how to create exceptional sport experiences through positive and meaningful interactions. Find out more about him here.