A National Alliance for Youth Sports resource helping coaches, parents and administrators provide the best youth sports experiences for children.
Teams on a mission
By Sara Robinson, MA
Think of teams, companies or organizations you admire. What is it about those groups that stands out? What do they have in common? While they may have a number of similarities, chances are they all have mission statements.
Does your team have one?
You may think that because you coach kids and teens, you don’t need to have a mission statement, but consider how a mission statement may help. A mission statement is a statement of purpose that captures not only what drives the team but also what it stands for. Creating a mission statement as a group can allow for bonding, and working together to support the statement is unifying and motivating.
Even if your club or organization has a mission statement, create one with your team to generate opportunities to live out the larger mission in ways that are meaningful to your specific group.
Interested in creating a mission statement but not sure where to begin? Follow these steps:
1) As a group, write down answers to the following questions:
a. Why do we play?
b. What do we love about our sport?
c. What makes this team unique?
d. What are our strengths and positive qualities?
e. What keeps us coming back for more on this team?
f. Any other questions you want to create that help tap into the passion and drive that team members have and that represent the motivation of the players.
Keep in mind that for younger teams you may want to adjust the wording and have fewer questions. Remember, there are no correct answers here – write down everything as long as it is appropriate.
2) Once you see all of the answers from the above questions, you may want to group similar ideas together such as family and support or happiness, joy and smiles.
3) Allow the group to decide on 3-4 of the most important ideas – those which truly capture who this team is and what makes them passionate.
4) Create possible mission statements, looking at how you can combine the words and ideas. You may want to interchange some of the words that you grouped together in step 4. This step may lead to several options for the mission statement. Let the team talk about which ones feel most powerful and meaningful.
5) Once you’ve settled on a statement, try it out for a week or so to make sure it captures what drives your team and who they are.
6) When the mission statement is finalized, use it! Consider the ways in which you can utilize your mission statement to ignite passion and power within your team:
a. Repeat it at the start of each practice
b. Have it included on the t-shirts for the season
c. Make posters as part of a team building activity
d. Include it in your salutation for all email communication
e. Ask the team how they would like to use the mission statement
Though these steps take time, you will likely find that the team comes together during the creation of the mission statement, but also in living up to it.
The mission statement can also help to address unwanted behaviors on the team because you can ask your athletes if they are living up to the mission statement with the choices they are making on and off the field. Since the athletes created the mission statement, they will likely feel ownership over it and may want to self-correct their behaviors to keep in line with it. Younger athletes may need more guidance over the process but athletes of all ages can benefit from creating a mission statement.
Sara Robinson is a Mental Skills Coach with a Master’s Degree in Sport Psychology. She resides in the Bay Area, Calif., but works with athletes and coaches all over the country to help improve their mental skills, communication habits and increase their enjoyment in sport. For more information, visit her website: www.trainingthemind.com
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