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Coaching Tips

How to Change a Team Culture

If you’re looking for insight into leadership, check out the recent Sports Illustrated profile of Baltimore Orioles Manager Buck Showalter by writer Tom Verducci.

Showalter is trying to turn around a franchise that has not had a winning season since 1997. So he is talking to his players about the approach to success.

In one anecdote, Showalter notices that the spring training drills are getting a little sloppy. He tells the players he understands what is going on. “It’s three weeks into spring training. The novelty has worn off and you can’t see the end. But you have to push through mentally and emotionally.”

It’s a beautiful message for anyone who is bogged down in the boredom of everyday tasks. You’ve got to push through, not only mentally, but emotionally. You’ve got to somehow stay excited about what you’re doing, and stay connected to improvement.

At another point, Showalter discusses respect for the game. “You’re in Seattle,” he says, painting a scenario. “Back in Baltimore it’s 12:15 in the morning and someone is sitting in front of their TV, living and dying with what you do.”

In other words, what you do affects others. So take pride in what you do, and be the best you can be at it, even over the course of a long grind. Especially over the course of a long grind.

With messages like this, Showalter can change the culture. He’s pointing out that baseball, like the rest of life, is a mental game you can either win or lose. It’s about attitude. You can look for motivation, be a motivator, or be a de-motivator who drags your team down.

Those are not just sports lessons, they’re life lessons.

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Mike Tully speaks to sports, business and educational groups. He also works with coaches, athletes and teams to make their practice time more productive and efficient. He and Gary Pritchard are co-authors of “Ten Things Great Coaches Know.” To see Coach Tully and Coach Pritchard discuss “Seven Ways to Prepare for Adversity,” click here.


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