5 Ways to Build a Winning Sports Culture

By  //  August 24, 2023

The culture surrounding a sports team is just as vital to its success as the technical abilities of its players or the genius of its coach or manager.

Often conversations in the media about dynasty teams such as the Golden State Warriors or Real Madrid will underplay the importance of a winning culture. It is only when a large pool of talent fails to meet the expectations set by others that the importance of a team environment becomes prominent. The importance of a winning culture is evident when the likes of Messi, Neymar, and Mbappe can fail to achieve European glory in their three years together.

If you are a coach or a team manager, this article can help you sow the seeds for a positive team environment and a culture where everyone is pushed to achieve excellence collectively. 

  1. Learn From Successful Past Examples 

Every team’s interpersonal dynamics are different based on the players, where they come from, where they are in their careers, and their motivations. There is no one answer to winning; each team must arrive at its ultimate solution. 

It does not mean that the teachings of past or current successful teams will not help. Learning about the practices used by past greats can be aspirational. Knowing their mindset and how they conditioned themselves into a winning attitude can be crucial for players looking to improve their approach. 

Learning from past greats can go from watching online videos to booking a relevant speaker for your team. For baseball teams, a session with the legendary baseball manager Aaron Boone could be beneficial. This former great has achieved many things both as a player and a manager and thus has much to say about developing a winning attitude. You can check out Aaron Boone speaking information and book a session with him for your team.

In football, a session with Magin Rapinoe could prove pivotal in creating an environment where everyone tries their hardest to be inclusionary while pushing each other to excel. 

  1. Have Clearly Defined Values 

A sports team, just like any other organizational setting, requires clearly defined rules, responsibilities, and expectations to strive. Working in an uncoordinated environment is difficult for both the players and the coach, where the efforts of those contributing seem undirected and thus not as effective as they should be. 

Work to establish the values that define you as a team. Work to instill perseverance, respect, and teamwork within every team member. Make it clear what is expected from every player, whether in practice or game day, whether the team is winning by a 5-goal margin or getting hammered by the opposition. 

Knowing what is expected from you by your teammates and your manager makes it easier for players to work towards fulfilling that expectation. 

  1. Create An Inclusive Environment 

Playing sports requires players to make fast decisions in high-pressure situations where a small error can be the difference between victory and defeat. To prepare for such situations, alongside having a very high level of technical skill, players need to be in an environment they can positively associate with and feel driven to excel in. 

A sports team’s dressing room can easily turn toxic when a player isn’t tolerant of the culture and beliefs of their teammates. Work towards an environment where respect and tolerance are as cherished as sporting excellence and success. An inclusive dressing room ensures players have an environment where they can excel, help teammates form stronger bonds, and improve team chemistry. 

  1. Set Short-Term And Long-Term Goals 

Even the most successful players and managers will often talk about taking it one game at a time instead of thinking about the final goal of winning the entire league or tournament. While there’s nothing wrong with being aspirational, and it is great as a source of motivation, haplessly working towards your goals will never lead to success. As a team, having a clearly defined pathway toward your ultimate goal is vital. 

For this, set a long-term goal to strive towards. It should be aspirational but still, something realistic, so players can believe it is achievable and don’t become pessimistic about the impossibility of it. For a team usually fighting against relegation, it could be trying to finish in the top half of the table, and for a club that is one of the better teams, the goal could be winning the whole thing. 

Once you have defined a long-term goal, define a pathway toward achieving it. These goals must not be results-based and work towards areas of overall play. Short-term goals could be something like the three attackers on a football team setting the goal of improving their link-up play or a point guard working towards improving their three-point shooting. 

The short-term and long-term goals will help reinforce each other, with the prospect of success being a source of motivation for players to meet their short-term goals. 

  1. Celebrate Your Successes 

Many of the greatest athletes of our generation describe how the high of winning was a crucial source of motivation for these legends. Winning can be intoxicating, and when rewarded appropriately, it pushes players to go beyond their limits. 

However, the sad fact of sports is that there can only be one winner, and it is crucial to celebrate individual and team success even in the face of defeat. Celebrating successes and individual and collective milestones despite not having the results play out in your favor helps ensure that the overall environment of the team remains positive. It prevents a downturn of form leading to a collapse of dressing room dynamics and helps players stay motivated even if things aren’t working out. 


In most teams, it is just as crucial for the management to be good at man management as it is for them to be an excellent technician. People play sports and are emotional beings whose mood can drastically impact their performance. Working towards an inclusive environment where goals, values, and expectations are clearly defined can help bring about a winning sports culture.