Sports Team Culture
Articles and Videos

If you work with or in a team, this section is a must. We cover pre-season preparation, the development of teams, team selection, the secrets of great teams as well as all things related to building strong athlete engagement from team loyalty to building athlete responsibility. You may also be interested in our most popular, most recent and other categories of articles and videos.

The How, What and Why of Athlete Leadership – Tips for Coaches

If you’re wondering what effective leadership looks like in sport, I’ll give you a short method that I know works well. It’s crucial to know what’s important, what impacts performance. Then, we’ll talk about why we address things when they’re little issues, and don’t wait until they blow-up and become big issues.

Embracing Values from Inside the Sports Team

There are some non-negotiable principles teams need to have in place if they are to achieve success. Firstly, every unique team must have a set of values they agree to live by. Secondly, they have rules to co-operate within a framework. What’s interesting is how many of these teams fail to live their values, or only live them to some degree. The special few, live them to the degree required to achieve success. 

Directing Team Culture

This article illustrates reasons why coaches need to be involved in guiding (not directing) team culture. We also emphasize the importance of using the playing group’s experience in establishing team culture. Earlier articles give a definition of culture in a sporting context and detail strategies that coaches can use to develop team culture.

Accountability Key to Championship Form

Coach Stefanoni gives us an insight into exactly how the Minutewomen returned to the top of the championship table and what distinguishes UMass athletes from other collegiate softballers. She talks about high pressure matches and the way she prepares the team for big games. Additionally, Stefanoni shares the challenges and triumphs of the journey which eventually led to a Head Coaching position and included a transition from student-athlete to Director of Operations.

Game Changing Consultant – Sandra Chu

Sandra Chu, High-Performance Consultant, Princeton Graduate, Director of Two Tigers Consulting, successful Collegiate Rowing Coach, is a proven game changer. In any sport, in any field, her commitment to excellence, ability to analyze the obstacles, develop strategies and institute changes, transforms lives and fundamentally the ability and performance of teams.

Athlete Assessments’ Team Day

Athlete Assessments tackles the challenges of indoor rock climbing for its first 2019 Team Day. Every team needs to set aside time to re-connect, review goals and revisit values. Athlete Assessments is no different. We have four Team Days a year and the first one for 2019 saw us rock climbing, getting to know each other a little better from a DISC perspective and making some tough “Decisions” over a lunch menu!

6 CRUCIAL Steps to Success in Taking Over a Program

Congratulations! You’ve just been recruited as the new Head Coach. Whatever circumstances led to your appointment, the fact remains; you need to turn this team around – fast. You’ve got to get important elements of the team on side and develop what’s left of the team culture into a culture that you want. A culture that develops growth and delivers performance. There are six non-negotiable elements to success in this situation.

Roadblocks to Accountability

An analysis of two factors that regularly block accountability within individual or team-based athletic performance. Accountability is a prerequisite for high performance and is an essential theme or value, which takes specific systems and strategies to establish. Bo Hanson, Senior Consultant for Athlete Assessments talks about two of the key factors he encounters regularly which prevent the outcome of accountability occurring.

Looking Beyond Skill and Talent

Advice for emerging athletes; what accountability and self-sufficiency look like on a daily basis according to Mel Downer of Basketball Queensland, Australia. The movement towards “looking beyond skill and talent” must be backed by all Coaches who want to develop a concrete set of behavioral and non-technical criteria that support their team while they reach for their goals. Each Coach looks for something different in their athletes and in this article we look at the advice Mel Downer of Basketball Queensland, Australia gives to emerging athletes.

Footballing Bible FourFourTwo Investigates Team Chemistry

When the world’s biggest football magazine, FourFourTwo, took a look at team chemistry, writer Ben Welch spoke to premiership winning players, Arsenal’s premiership winning Coach, and the Cottages Player Manager. Welch researched the science behind the subject, examining the role of biochemistry, hormones and neurotransmitters. Ben also spoke to Bo Hanson about personality combinations and their contribution to team chemistry. This is Hanson’s account of the interview.

TOM KYLE – Evolution Equates to Success in Sport Coaching!

A Coach’s role is always evolving. Something Tom Kyle, Coach Development Manager for Basketball Queensland understands and loves about his job. His role with Basketball Queensland means he’s responsible for developing some 2,000 Coaches at a club, association and school level throughout Queensland, Australia.

TIM O’BRIEN – Once, Twice, Three Times a Champion

At Athlete Assessments, we love to celebrate success, especially when it’s a third National Championship win in four years. Which is exactly what Saint Mary’s College of California’s Head Coach Tim O’Brien achieved when he led the Gaels to their third D1A National Championship victory this month.

ELISE RAY – Phenomenal First Years

It’s a big deal to turn a team around in your first year as Head Coach. And this is exactly what Washington Gymnastics Head Coach Elise Ray did, when she coached her team to an eighth-place overall finish at the NCAA National Championships. Elise shares her personal insights in this month’s Coach Q&A.

Athlete Assessments Team Day: We Walk Our Talk

Athlete Assessments’ Senior Coaching Consultant, Bo Hanson, walks his talk at the organization’s Team Day. In this article we give you exclusive access to our Team Day, a day we set aside to review our internal scoreboard, establish goals for the coming year, assess our achievements, spend time with new team members and revisit our purpose.

Culture Inside Women Coaches Academy The Same Worldwide – Japan, 2017

When Liz Hanson, Client Director for Athlete Assessments, presented to the 2017 Japanese Women Coaches Academy, technically, it was educational; how to make the most of using their CoachDISC Profile for improved results with their coaching, but in reality it was about so much more…

Why We’re Not Leading Teams

Next time you’re considering using a sports consultancy to improve your team’s performance, make sure they can deliver what they’re promising. How do they intend to work with you? And, what’s their track record?


Fast Track your Team Rebuild

You have just been recruited as the new Head Coach, and unless your predecessor was successful and has decided to retire or move on, then the program you’ve taken on has not been performing and it’s your job to turn that around – fast. Bo Hanson shares the processes, steps and strategies you can take to fast track your rebuild and start winning straight away.

ALI CAREY-OLIVER – How to Take Over a Program and Win

Ali Carey-Oliver achieved unprecedented success in her first year as Head Coach at Mt. San Antonio College after her women’s Volleyball program won their first ever Conference Championship with a perfect 8-0 conference record and an outstanding 20-4 season overall. 

Being the Best Player for the Team

625654_43831429Athletes and coaches understand the importance of each individual player performing at their personal best and to striving to be the best player they can be. But what does it mean to be the “best player for the team”? Being the best player for your team means maximizing the individual’s performance and maximizing the performance of the team as a whole. 

Create the Right Sports Team Culture: 10 Critical Factors

Hockey contestCulture is being discussed in sporting circles now more than ever. Why? Because it is a significant performance factor. If you have the “right” culture, your team is more likely to achieve sustainable success – not always winning, but always being in the hunt. If you have the “wrong” culture, your chances of any success, even fleeting success are almost zero. So how do you create the right sports team culture? In this article we discuss 10 Factors that Define Successful Sports Team Cultures.

Sport Pre-Season Preparation using the GRIP Model

istock_000006382613largeMany of our clients ask us for help on what we suggest for best practice sport pre-season preparation, focusing on both mental and physical development. This article is written to give you the exact methods we use to start any sporting season on the right foot. Often when problems occur during the season, it is because this vital time wasn’t invested in the sport pre-season preparation. Prevention is always better than a cure.

The Circle of Safety in Sport

CircleofSafetyAthlete Assessments, when we work with clients one of the really critical models we refer to is the Circle of Safety. This article will describe what we mean by a Circle of Safety, why it is integral to creating a successful team and also analyse how different styles of coaching can contribute to creating a safe and secure environment for their athletes.

Why a Sports Team’s Culture Matters

sunsetrunnersCulture is a buzz word in sport. Coaches often attribute their success or failure on this ambiguous word. But at the crux of it why should you care about your sports team’s culture? The short answer is, while some sport team’s cultures can create sustained success, others will only deliver success in the short term, if at all. Culture is a critical factor in the success of any organized group, whether that be a corporate organization or a sports team.

How to Break a Losing Streak

Soccer Team Raising Trophy --- Image by © Royalty-Free/Corbis

As a coach, nothing is more demoralizing than a losing streak that just won’t break. While we do our absolute best to avoid losing streaks, performance slumps, or even the prospect of our team underachieving it doesn’t mean we can avoid the topic, it’s too important. Luckily history tells us that almost all losing streaks are broken eventually, the real issue we’re interested in is how? If your team is in a slump, what is the best way to turn it around? How do you break a losing streak?

ONE Element

Tennis Female

With Athlete Assessments we have now worked with over 22,000 individuals from over 40 different sports. This work has given me a unique vantage point to see the recurring patterns or themes that create success. When I see these patterns consistently creating success, year after year, the evidence certainly mounts. With this in mind, here is one of those concepts I have seen create consistent success. I believe it is critical for any coach and all teams to clearly understand and apply this concept to improve performance.

Athlete Engagement in Sport – Do Your Athletes Care?

Athlete Engagement in Sport - Do Your Athletes Care?Athlete Engagement is a critical concept for all sports coaches to understand. “Engagement” is a borrowed term from the business world. There, it is a measurement of the degree to which an employee’s heart and mind is committed to their role, leader and company. It is so important in business because engagement has a direct and significant link to profitability. Research shows engaged individuals deliver an additional 30% in discretionary effort compared to disengaged individuals.

Team Culture and Identity in Sport

track1Getting the culture right in your team and organization is crucial for success on any level. So how do you ensure that your culture gives your athletes the opportunity to achieve their fullest potential? In this 7-part video presentation, Bo Hanson discusses the importance of team culture, and how effectively utilizing the GRIP Model during your season can go a long way to ensuring your team’s culture starts on, and stays on, the right track.

Solving a TOUGH Problem in Sport

Am Football practiceThe book GRIT made it onto many coaches reading lists over the summer (including ours) and there has been significant media coverage on the topic too. More than ever before, Coaches are unanimous in saying that their athletes are lacking resilience, they aren’t as ‘tough’ as their teams in previous times have been. Being mentally tough is not the same as having grit. Maybe there is another 4 letter word Coaches should be thinking about instead? We believe so. 

Strategies for Athlete Accountability in Sport

Diving SwimmerBeing accountable is not making excuses, not blaming others or whinging and complaining. Accountability in sport is taking ownership of something and making sure you ‘know your job and do your job’ 100% of the time. Being accountable isn’t something that just happens. It isn’t the Coach telling you what you did or didn’t do right on game day. You need a process or a system that helps you to be accountable.

Tuckman’s Stages of Team Development in Sport

hockey2As a Coach you should understand the Stages of Team Development your team will be working through, and how to help them achieve their best during each stage. Every high performance sports team goes through the four main stages of team development. The first four stages of team growth were initially developed by Bruce Wayne Tuckman and published in 1965. This article provides background on each of the five stages of team development in sport and an example of a team going through each stage.

Critical Team Roles in Sport (What Every Team Needs)

rugbyCreating a successful team outcome relies on how effectively the individual parts of the team work together as a unit. This article delves into the critical team roles in sport that every successful team needs and who on the team should take these roles. If you are familiar with our work, we are referring to the “R” in the GRIP Model. Sports teams require a number of unique individuals who each play certain roles from a technical and non-technical perspective. We need individuals to play different roles and not simply perform the same role.

 DISC Team Culture for Sport


What Coaches need to know about their Team’s Culture. In previous articles, we discussed at length why a productive Team Culture is vital for sports teams. But how do you actually know what kind of culture exists in your sports team? In this article we discuss the four DISC Culture Styles which are mapped to the four elements of the Competing Values Framework. If you are familiar with our work with DISC in sport, you will notice that these four elements map perfectly to the four DISC Styles.

Coach-Athlete Relationships: Bond Athletes to their Coach, Team and Club

Former Student-Athletes Blitzing the CompetitionAs a coach ensuring your athlete is always striving to gain a 1% improvement in their performance can be one of the hardest parts of your job. At Athlete Assessments, we often speak about the importance of a quality coach-athlete relationship, and how this can be used to improve athlete performance. This article discusses how to improve emotional bonds and engagement, and how understanding these factors improves your athlete’s performance.

Your Athlete’s Value Beyond their ‘Position’

Athlete's Value Beyond their PositionWhen you look at the athletes in your squad or team, what do you see?  Do you just see the number on their back?  Do you see their technical ability, and how this translates into their performance?  Is there anything an athlete can contribute beyond their technical contribution?  Have you ever thought about the impact certain players have on the rest of their team, especially when they are not there?

Blaming the Coach in Sport

istock_000016266339largeAs sure as death and taxes, every sports season there are winners and losers. For the teams who don’t win, everyone has an opinion on why “their” team was not successful this season.  The reality is, winning a championship is never easy. To achieve this ultimate success you must have the ability to piece together a cryptic jig saw puzzle, not just once, but week in and week out. 

Sports Team Chemistry and Dynamics in Sport

Football teamUsing DISC to Create High Performance Teams. Great teamwork happens when your athletes embrace the philosophy that they should be the best person for the team rather than the best person on the team. In the selection process, athletes are competing brutally against each other in order to be selected. Once on the team, they are then expected to put the team first. This is quite a shift in thinking. However, if your athletes do not change their thinking, what is created is a non-united team – a team of individuals and this is not how you achieve team success. 

Sports Team Culture Case Study

rowingfadedThis case study was extracted from ‘Team Culture: Is it making or breaking your team?’ available for purchase now on Amazon. “What made us a winning team, more than anything else, was the new culture we developed early in the defining stages of our team’s development. This leveraged into a strong emotional bond and chemistry, which sustained us as a crew through a difficult final race. The crew marked a greater appreciation and recognition of how teams form, reform and develop over time with the right leadership from the coach.” 

Reflections on 2015 and Lessons for Elite Sport in 2016

Marketing Piece 1There is something about the transition from the end of November to early December. It’s not just that festive times are ahead. It becomes a time to take stock, be proud of what’s been accomplished, identify what we can improve on and make plans to achieve our new goals. An important place to start is to consider what are the most important lessons from the recent past. When reflecting on 2015’s most critical issues in elite sport, three key areas stand out.

Athlete Decision Making Skills: Coaching for Improvement

SoccerKickAthletes who have the ability to create truly great performances on the field or in a race have one very important skill in common. They are excellent decision makers – instead of letting things happen, they take control and make things happen. This article explains: The Athlete Decision Making Process, How to Improve Athlete Decision Making, How Your Coaching Style Effects Decision Making, and AthleteDISC & Decision Making.  

Synergy in Sport Teams: Creating High Performance Teams

dev2Synergy is the sum of the team being more than the total sum of its individual parts and the unique situation where the best individual performance on the team, does not outperform the team’s performance. Put another way, synergy is the ability of a group to outperform even its best individual member.  Team synergy is a critical element for High Performance Teams.  

Demystifying Sport Team Culture

footballsunsetCulture is a buzz word in sport. Coaches often attribute their success or failure on this ambiguous word. Every team has a culture and even if you do not know what yours is, one exists. The real question is, what impact is it having on your team right now? Culture is ‘how things are done around here’ – the consistent behaviors the team lives by on a daily basis. Ultimately, culture will make or break your team. Regardless of the sport, there are certain characteristics of high performance culture. 

High Performance Sport Teams – There’s No Time for Tolerance

hockey1Of all the aspects of his role at Athlete Assessments, Bo Hanson most values the opportunity to be involved with hundreds of different teams. It’s with this unique insight he identifies the common threads that lead to sustained success. “In elite sport, equipment is equal among competitors, physical conditioning programs are indistinguishable and game or race strategies are often duplicated. The only true competitive advantages are gained by investing in the mental and emotional skills of your people, and their relationships with each other.”

Selecting Athletes for the Best Team – The Holy Grail in Sport

Athletics womenAsk any successful business person or entrepreneur what makes their business so powerful and most respond with some variation of the theme, ‘selection of their people’. Sport is no different.  Ask any of the coaching greats what makes the most successful team and almost without exception their immediate response is ‘selection’. Selection is the fabric or building block to exceptional results on and off the field. 

Athlete Induction Programs: Best Practice for Success

StudentsPre-season is a hectic time of year. There is usually a long list of important items to organize and sometimes things can slip through the cracks. No doubt, like most programs, you have athletes who have left and new athletes arriving. The induction of a new athlete into your program is something you need to get 100% right. Being strategic about your athlete induction program helps you to set the foundation for your athlete joining your program (and re-establish returning athletes).

Destructive Sport Team Roles


In previous articles we have discussed the importance of ensuring each of your athletes play a specific non-technical role on the team (and not only contribute physically through their athletic ability). For consistent, high performance it is essential. Our article ‘Critical Team Roles in Sport (what every team needs)’ discussed the different types of roles athletes can play, and how it is especially advantageous to do so during the Pre-Season using the GRIP Model.

Pre-Season Sport Camps – What the Best Teams Get Right

volleyballToday, pre-season camps are an important part of the sports program for professional and amateur  teams around the world. At their best, pre-season camps can deliver a necessary anchoring experience. In the tough moments of the season’s competition, the team can draw from the camp and find what is needed to deliver a win. This article explores what creates a successful pre-season camp or team building exercise, the best activities to include, what organization is required and what the overall objective of any pre-season camp should be.

Team Life Cycles – The Stages of Team Development, Conflict and the GRIP Model

tennis-female2In coaching there are often many models to understand, and it can be difficult to comprehend how they weave together.  In this article we will discuss Team Life Cycles, and how the Stages of Team Development, Conflict, and GRIP models apply and integrate throughout your season. To begin, you need to be aware that every team goes through the four stages of development.  

Sports Personality Clashes on the Front Page

rowersLast week, I read with interest the case of Pippa Savage being dropped from the Australian Olympic Team Women’s Quad Scull for reasons amounting to what is publicly known as “incompatibility” with other crew members. The bottom line is that unless athletes have an almost complete understanding of themselves and each other, they risk being in a position where sports personality clashes catch them by surprise.

Rowers: Athletes Value Beyond their “Seat”

rowingcloseWhen you look at your rowers in your crews, what do you see? Do you see their technical and physical ability and how this translates into the performance of the crew? Is there anything a rower can contribute beyond this? Have you ever thought about the impact certain rowers have on the rest of their crew that doesn’t relate to their ability to row, their fitness or their strength? Do they have a role that goes beyond their seat position and ability to row well?

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