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Nuture What You Like, Overcome What You Don't

by Peri Kurshan

Team culture can often be overlooked as an important contributor to your team’s success, both in the short and long term. The culture of your team determines what types of players will be attracted to the team, will enjoy playing on your team, and will stick around season after season. There is no one "right" team culture, and it can be defined as much from the actions of a single individual (founder, strong personality, etc) as shaped over time by the collective actions and personalities of the group. Once your team is known as having a particular team culture though, it is very hard to overcome that perception, even once the reality has changed. So it is worthwhile identifying your team culture (real or perceived!), nurturing what you like, and trying to overcome what you don’t like. 

Many aspects of team culture are neither positive nor negative, but depend on individual preferences. Some players want to play on a team that’s known for being hard-working and disciplined, others prefer to be involved with a team that prioritizes having fun and giving people freedom to expand their personal game. Some players want to win above all else; others want most of all to play with people they like. Some people like playing on a team where direction comes clearly and succinctly from above, others prefer a team where there is room for more people to be involved in decision-making. Most of us fall somewhere in the middle on all of these, but it’s worth figuring out where on the spectrum the preferences of the team as a whole lie. It’s a good exercise to do with your team at the beginning of each season- determine not only what your team’s goals are for that season, but what the team’s priorities are in terms of team culture. Sometimes this type of conversation will highlight the fact that the team’s goals and team culture priorities are not aligned! 

Once you’ve identified what you want your team culture to be, incorporate elements of it into your practices and communications. Make sure to explain why things are being done a certain way (e.g. sprints for turnovers, or taking a weekend off so people can go play at a fun coed tournament) in terms of what you’ve collectively decided is the team’s culture. Try to ensure that big team decisions (schedule, type of offense, etc) are made with fostering the team’s culture in mind. 

For many of us, playing Ultimate is such an important part of our lives that we can forget that when it comes down to it, we’re doing this for fun! It’s worthwhile then to try to make sure that our team’s culture reflects what we as individuals value most about the game. 

huddle issue032

Thu March 31st, 2011

Us vs. Them
by Tully Beatty

Find Your Spirit Animal
by Tyler Kinley

by John Korber

Nurture What You Like, Overcome What You Don't
by Peri Kurshan

Team Identity
by Ali Lenon

Self-Sustaining Team Culture
by Matt Mackey

Key Team Culture Moments
by John Sandahl

Work Together
by Charlie Reznikoff

It Will Change Every Season
by Miranda Roth




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