Building a Safe and Positive Athletic Program

  • Nov 2, 2022


In the previous blog, we discussed the unnecessary hardships that athletes face while on their sports teams. This is created through a negative culture and poor communication between athletes and staff. Now it is time to focus on what can be done to build a successful sports program that makes safety and positivity a priority. This can be achieved by all members of the staff and the athletes collaborating, listening, and understanding each other’s perspectives.

First and foremost, listen to the athletes. They are the glue. When athletes are not happy and healthy, there is no team. Believe them if they say they are hurt, pay attention when they seem down, understand what type of coaching they respond to. Being on the same page with athletes goes beyond just the game. Knowing athletes as people is arguably more important and will improve their experience in their programs.

The staff can learn just as much from the athletes through the course of the season. Having positive and frequent communication with all personnel, such as athletic trainers and sports psychologists is essential for a team. Everyone’s bodies and minds work differently, so it is important to find what’s best and the team’s medical staff can find those solutions. Trust them as much as you trust your athletes in a game; odds are, they were all athletes at one point as well. Coaches can benefit from using the resources around them to assist athletes in finding their individual paths to achieve a common goal.

Individual needs are important, but practice is where teams grow collectively. Create an atmosphere with strong work ethic and positivity. A difficult task does not need to be so serious. The workouts and drills that I have done in a positive atmosphere have been some of the most productive. Being serious all the time takes a toll on everyone and can result in burnout, and the dog days of the season can become grueling. Friendly competition and positive reinforcement help make a comfortable atmosphere. Hard is more achievable when you want to be there and play for a team that you want to succeed. Athletes won’t think twice about running that extra lap or doing an extra rep when they are bought into the common goal of a program.

Coaches should also walk the walk of the program they establish. They should be who they want their athletes to be. A coach who the players trust and look up to is the final piece to a successful program. Enabling what has been discussed so far is a great start to building a team athletes want to be a part of. Athletes may be representing a school or some other organization, and while that does matter, at the end of the day they play for each other and the coach.

If more athletic programs molded their philosophies around these practices, we would not be hearing about athletes falling out of love with their sport. Being safe and enjoying what you do is just as important as winning. Athletic programs with a positive, safe environment where everyone feels they have a voice can help steer towards a path of success and provide athletes and staff experiences that they will never forget, for all the right reasons.


Posted in Athletics