How the right culture creates success on the sports field

Creating the right culture is key to building a successful team according to Scott Whyte, Director of Sport at Wadhurst.

Whether I’m coaching elite athletes or school boys, I love bringing unity to a team through coaching. I believe teams are at their best when players want to be part of what their team is trying to achieve and that a strong, cohesive team culture truly contributes to on-field success. 

Creating this kind of culture begins by encouraging players to believe in what they are doing. I routinely ask players to make concrete plans to succeed and to take ownership of their results. Ideally, all members of the playing group and coaching staff will be self-evaluative as well, ready to share their own knowledge as we prepare to play.

Communication is another key part of this process-driven approach to coaching. I balance direct instruction with collaborative discussion in order to both involve and guide the playing group and coaching staff. Open, two-way communication is vital between all stakeholders, from junior members through to senior coaching staff.

This kind of open communication leads to authentic goal-setting, which is another factor that contributes to a team’s achievements. With each member of a team invested in our goals we enter each competition with a common aim, and therefore a much higher chance of success.

Of course, communicating openly also involves delivering messages that are not sugar-coated, giving team members the information they need to grow and learn from challenges and setbacks. High levels of trust in all relationships across the team are central to being able to give and receive this kind of feedback.

A final part of my coaching strategy is creating an open learning environment – one that encourages a growth mindset rather than a sense that our abilities as team members are set in stone. It is crucial that each player feels comfortable enough to say the words “I don’t know” or “I need help”. With this level of trust in place, we can set and work towards higher standards without moving into a culture focused on ‘mistakes’ and negative criticism.

Even though our sporting achievements are often measured by the scoreboard, I believe there is much more that goes into our success as a team than the things we do on the field. By creating an environment that offers open communication, positive relationships and the support required to grow on and off the field, we ultimately encourage team members to go above and beyond expectations, building towards success.

I’m also mindful that, for school boys, success doesn’t always meaning winning the game. Building self-confidence, resilience, and the attitude to always do your best can be more valuable.

Scott Whyte Director of Sport at Wadhurst