Two Questions Every Coach Should Ask Their Team Before the Start of The Season

November 14, 2019

Lee Elias

Before the start of each season, there are two questions that every coach should ask themselves, their staff and their team. In my experience, less than 5% actually do. These two questions are in no way “the answer” to creating a championship season, but they are the consummate start to a successful season. Make no mistake, team’s that have an answer for these questions win - those that haven't, don't. Whether you are so close to winning a title you can taste it or a team rebuilding from the ground up - here’s something that will give you an edge…


Question 1: Can you define trust (without using the word in the definition)? 

Most Common Answer: Silence

At face value, trust is the level of reliance you have on another person. At a personal level, the definition of this word changes depending on your upbringing. It means something completely different for someone who grew up in a safe environment with two parents and something completely different for someone who grew in the inner city with one or no parents. Those are the two extremes of an entire spectrum of backgrounds, and your group most likely has a large range. 

What’s funny about trust is when you really break it down its more of a feeling than it is a word. I always tell the teams I am part of, “You do not need to like each other but you do need to trust one another - you need to believe that the person sitting next to you will do everything within their power to succeed for the team and you.” 

Each team must come up with a definition for “trust” that is understood and bought into by every single person within the locker room. As the foundation of any team this is essential if you want to not only compete, but to win at the highest level.

Question 2: Do you know what motivates each individual member of your team?

Most Common Answer: No

When I get a “no” to this answer I usually follow it up with, “well how the hell are you motivating them then?!”

We are all motivated in different ways. After building trust, simply asking the members of your team “What motivates you?” And adversely “what demotivates you?” This is a five minute conversation that may make the difference between you getting maximum performance ford mediocre performance from your athletes and staff.

Truth is, most leaders assume the way they are motivated is the “right” way and in turn apply that methodology to the entire team. While this may work for some, it can often be catastrophic to the team as a whole. As coaches, we all deal with different age levels, different backgrounds, and different mindsets. Knowing how to accept and tap into each one to both inspire them to grow and inspire better performance i

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Once you’ve asked these questions, document the results. I’m a big believer in visuals around the locker room. Have the definition of trust visible to the players at all times. Print out copies or create a phone backgrounds and have them walk around with it. With motivation, keep a strong notebook and dedicate the time to learn how your players, coaches and staff respond to different types of coaching. Delegate if needed to positional coaches. 

While I think these two questions are just a starting point, there are many more questions that can be asked prior to a season starting. Organize your staff and come up with ten questions that you can ask all players about trust, motivation, goal setting and preparation. Sit down with them one-on-one and create a folder where you and your players can refer to them throughout the season. 

If you have questions about how trust, motivation or overall team culture, email me at lee@GameSevenGroup.com 

#BelieveInTheBond