In this episode of the Magness & Marcus Podcast, we talk about building Culture. While we are trained as coaches to emphasize the physiology and doc us on workout design, what separates programs that thrive and last is often the intangible dynamic of culture. In this episode, we go through our experiences in developing culture in high school, college, and the professional world.
There are a couple of themes that emerge when looking at culture. We start with the simplest and most important, actually caring about the athlete. The number one factor is demonstrating that as a coach you actually give a $hit about them as a person, not just as an athlete. It’s about getting to know why they are in the sport, what drives them, and their goals outside of running. From there, it’s about deciding whether you want to have an athlete centered or a coach centered program.
In a coach centered program, the coach is the dictator or sets the tone. This style of coaching often gives the appearance of a disciplined and well oiled machine. It’s popular to try and copy this method and is a favorite of football coaches everywhere. Jon and I both feel that what this actually creates is artificial discipline and fake “toughness”. True toughness isn’t about putting on the facade at practice or in controlled environments. It’s not about appearing to be extremely disciplined and ‘tough’ in situations that don’t matter. It’s about when the gun goes off or the whistle blows, having the ability to execute in the way that you’ve practiced under the elements of stress the competition brings. Another downfall of the dictatorship type style is that it leads to athletes only being motivated or disciplined because of fear of the consequences. On the other hand, an athlete centered approach is all about working towards the athlete being intrinsically motivated. They aren’t reliant on others to know how and when to get the job done.
Which brings us to our final point made in the podcast, autonomy. We should work towards giving athletes autonomy, creating independent, not dependent athletes. When people are given autonomy and empowered to take control of their own work and results, you create a culture where motivation and discipline become second nature.
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Steve and Jon