A Values System Approach for the Right Culture

A Values System Approach

Every Head Coach has the opportunity to create a team culture that supports the learning and development of important skills. One of the often overlooked ways of creating the right culture is the creation of a Values System so the players, parents, team and organization know what the coaching staff and the organization values. These values then form the basis for all of the team’s decisions and the organization’s decisions. Every player on the team is expected to use these same values in their own decision making process to help them make the right choices. The values must be effectively communicated to the team and be the emphasis of daily coaching in the interaction with individual players and the group.

Think Less Play Faster Hockey’s top 10 values to create the right culture for the development of individual players and the group are:

#1 Meritocracy – Everything is earned on the team from a roster spot, position in the depth chart, specialty team minutes, who you get to play with and playing minutes. Seniority on the team does not mean anything in terms of any special privileges or considerations. Everything is earned.

#2 Team 1st – Every decision is based solely on what is in the best interests of the team.

#3 Getting 1% Better Every Day – The goal is constant and never ending improvement by every member of the team. When we are not getting better and have reached a plateau we are headed in the wrong direction. Best effort is required in everything we do and will be constantly evaluated. Practice preparation is game day reality so our focus is on practice because that’s where we get better and games are an opportunity to demonstrate that we are getting better.

#4 Be Where Your Feet Are – Mental toughness is about an awareness mindset. We must all be focused on the moment in front of our face. Being present in the moment to perform at our best and not be distracted by the “noise” or matters outside of our control.

#5 Health & Wellness – There is nothing more important than the safety and wellness of the players and all members of the team and organization. The daily coaching work involves interaction with individual players and the group and we are always assessing the wellness of the team. Mind, body and spirit are linked and essential elements for us to reach peak performance and our goals.

#6 Hockey Sense – Hockey sense is taught and as a team we are striving to educate and develop our knowledge of skills, tactics, concepts and systems to improve our abilities to play situational hockey in all three zones. It is not how fast you can skate that matters it’s how fast you can play the game.

#7 Playing the Right Way – Hockey is a Possession Game (PG). Players must learn the important concepts, skills, tactics and systems to play the game as a unit/group to support the puck offensively and defensively in all three zones of the rink. The best teams in any league have players with the best technical hockey skills and knowledge of how to play fast. The ability to play fast is essential to winning the PG. Playing the right way means we have the knowledge and skills to support the puck offensively and defensively in all three zones individually and as a group – so we can win the PG.

#8 Character – The data overwhelming supports the fact that character drives performance on and off the playing surface. High performers in life and sports are skilled in character and emotional intelligence competencies. Sports doesn’t teach or develop character skills, it is the responsibility of the coaches to teach and develop character and emotional intelligence skills.

Character Skills (Competencies)

10 Emotional Competencies of High Performers

#9 Leadership – A team can’t have too many leaders. Leaders are people who make the people around them better. Leaders are focused on relationship building with teammates and coaches and building those relationships to support the group’s achievement of their goals and objectives. Selflessness is a skill taught and developed in every member of our team because what matters is the success of the group not any one individual player.

#10 Relationship Based Approach – A person 1st > athlete 2nd approach is a requirement of every coach. We are focused on a holistic coaching approach where the health and wellness of the player includes mind, body and spirit. As a coach and mentor of people (athletes) we often have to have tough conversations with individuals and it is essential the coach-player relationship is maintained and #1. That relationship is based on mutual trust and respect and is the foundation of the coaching work done with individuals and the group.


Every coach has the opportunity to create their own Values System to establish the right culture for their team. The 10 values shared were to create an awareness of values and how using them to make decisions can be helpful to the coaching process for players, coaches and organizations. You should always want the players to know what is important to the coaches and how decisions are going to be made on the team. How a coach creates their team’s values system and chooses the team’s values is up to every coach. Players shouldn’t have to guess what their coaches value, it should be crystal clear what the coaches value as well as the expectations and standards of play.

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