The Player Driven Culture System: Epilogue: Sustaining A Player-Driven Culture: Surmounting the 6 Main Constraints

Jan 5, 2021 | Program Development

By Mike Kuchar
Senior Researcher/Co-Founder
X&O Labs
Twitter: @MikeKKuchar


During the course of my research, I found that sustainability of culture may be even more difficult to obtain than creating it. As Clemson University head coach Dabo Sweeney told us after his initial success, he had to train players how to fight complacency. So, I wanted to make sure I addressed all the obstacles that coaches may encounter when working to sustain a player-driven culture. Player-driven culture is without question the healthiest form of culture, yet it has its risks and may not always be attainable due to the various circumstances presented in this section. There can be several obstacles, I refer to them as constraints, that may prevent complete establishment of these competencies. How coaches navigate these waters of uncertainty is at the crux of developing sustainability in culture and as one of my sources told me, "the soil needs to be ripe to build your culture." Quite simply, he meant that all components, time, resources, support, etc., must be completely aligned to create your culture.

This Epilogue is about the six roadblocks or constraints, I found coaches were having in building and sustaining a player-driven culture. Of course, these constraints can vary based on the level you are coaching. For example, many coaches at larger collegiate programs may not have to work through financial issues, while high school programs may not need to be concerned too much with recruiting. What makes creating player-driven culture so difficult is that all parts of the program must be on board, or aligned, with the cultural initiatives. High school coaches have the liberty of time to establish this—many can stay at their current post for several years. But at the collegiate level, the administration is not as patient. There are no more five-year plans, so to speak.

Remember, the end game in a player-driven culture is always ownership, where players and coaches are given some form of autonomy to defend the core values of the program. Some coaches, like Tim Rulo, the head coach at Chillicothe High School (MO), refers to this progression as impact teaching, while others refer to it as “whole person” development, as I explained in Competency 4, Emotional Awareness. Impact teaching comes in the form of developing players in every aspect of their lives—athletically, academically, and socially. It’s a need that many feel this younger generation is thirsting for. “I see young men struggle,” Coach Rulo said. “I see grown men struggle. The struggle in dealing with conflict, how to lead, and how to get people to get on board. I feel like a lot of times I see men being passive in areas of their life as they get older because honestly, they've been spoon-fed how to do things.”