Tag Archives: Internal Standards

Team Culture One Percenters

Everyone* knows that the key to victory in any sporting event is taking care of the 1%ers.  It is one of those pieces of conventional wisdom that we take for granted these days.  When those people* talk about 1%ers they are most often referring to very small technical or tactical areas or even the 1% extra effort required to be successful.  Some coaches have gone as far as to identify what those 1%ers are and measure them.

For those keeping track at home, I think a lot about how the team functions, about ‘The Secret’, about the interactions within the team.  While everyone* knows that the functioning of the team is really, really important, many (most?) coaches do not actually spend time on those elements.  And they would certainly never give up actual training time to work on them.  Indeed coaches are notoriously loathe to voluntarily cut practice time for any reason at all.  And when building a team, they will always take the player who is the slightly better player over the player who is nearly as good but is a better fit in the team.

For those reasons it was interesting and refreshing to hear a recent interview with Anna Collier on The Net Live.  Anna is coach of the USC women’s beach volleyball team which has won the last two NCAA championships.  In the interview she talks of the evolution of her coaching from being a coach interested only in technical development to one being primarily interested in establishing an effective team culture.

“I learned that to me if we have a problem on the team… (fixing that problem) is more valuable than hitting that high line a hundred more times.”

If I can interpret her philosophy, she considers the team culture to be a 1%er and subsequently devotes part of her time with the team to developing them.

Maybe coaching isn’t just about techniques and tactics.

You can listen to the whole interview here from about the 37 minute mark.


*When you read ‘everyone’ or ‘people say’ do you ever ask ‘which people?’ or do you just accept the statement as given?

Read about the great new Vyacheslav Platonov coaching book here.

Cover v2


Internal Standards

I recently had a conversation with a colleague about a range of issues in coaching.  During the course of our conversation he asked how his team could stop being the victim of ‘upsets’ and instead create ‘upsets’ of their own.  He went on to say that he had never been involved in a team that had created an ‘upset’ but had suffered from many.  To me the point is the difference between matches you ‘could’ win, and matches you ‘should’ win.  His teams didn’t win matches they ‘could’ win but often lost matches they ‘should’ win.

I thought that was a great question.  It is one of the most common experiences of coaches that the team plays to the level of the opponent.  Against very good teams, it is easy to play well, but the chances of winning are small.  Against teams around your level, a little below or a little above, it is much more difficult to maintain your level of play and hence upsets occur.  To my mind the solution lies in creating internal standards.  These are standards of performance, teamwork, commitment, emotion, discipline and so on that become internalised as the basic level of play of a team.  Internal standards are created during training and competition.  The coach (and team) demands these standards consistently and relentlessly.  Ultimately a situation is created in which teams and players measure themselves not against their opponent but against themselves.

When sufficiently high internal standards are established, upsets become a thing of the past.  As long as you have a little luck…