For all you coaches out there, this article is for you (and for any teachers or business people who are trying to improve their “team” culture, this article and the recommended books are also highly recommended). The article was written by John O'Sullivan who wrote Changing the Game after three decades as a soccer player and coach at all levels: high school, college and top professional leagues.
The Messiah Method: The Seven Disciplines of the Winningest College Soccer Program in America
By Michael Zigarelli
Zigarelli is a Professor of Leadership and Strategy at MessiahCollege, and his work is a study of what he calls “The Seven Disciplines” of the winningest College Soccer program in America. From 200-2013, the men’s and women’s soccer teams at NCAA Division III Messiah have won an astounding 15 national Championships, and have their unbeaten streaks measured not only in games, but seasons. All with no scholarships! Zigarelli examines how such excellence happens, through things such as being intentional about everything you do, cultivating team chemistry, playing to a higher purpose than winning, and more. As I have told every one of my coaching friends, regardless of sports, if you do not have this book on your shelf you are selling yourself, and your athletes short. It is well written, well organized, and easy to read and refer back to. GET THIS BOOK COACHES!
Practice Perfect: 42 Rules for Getting Better at Getting Better
By Doug Lemov, Erica Woolway and Katie Yezzi
Lemov is one of the top teacher educators in the world, and author is the bestseller Teach Like a Champion. His organization Uncommon Schools, provides education workshops for teachers on, in a nut shell, how to become a master teacher. Coaches, we are all teachers, and we can all become better teachers. The book outlines the authors’ “42 Rules for Getting Better at Getting Better, ” and things that really stuck with me were ideas such as having an objective instead of a purpose for your practice, reinforcing what you are good at, and learning to correct rather than critique all the time. But the one thing that really hit me hard in this book? We understand that athletes and musicians get better by practicing, and in fact encourage our players every day to do so, yet how often do we practice ourselves? How often do we have our sessions critiqued? Do we ask for feedback on what works and what does not? This book will hands down make you a better, more thoughtful, and more impactful coach.
Leaders Eat Last: Why Some Teams Pull Together and Others Don’t
By Simon Sinek
Sinek is one of the thought leaders in the world of, well, leadership. This follow up to his great book Start with Why is a fantastic look at the culture within teams and organizations that function well. He examines all sorts of teams, from corporate America to the US Marine Corp, and outlines the common principals that distinguish these cultures of excellence. My big takeaway from this one was the reinforcement of the idea that a culture built on love and respect, AND NOT fear and punishment, will produce the strongest, healthiest, and most successful teams.