Culture has been a buzzword in coaching for several years now.  We all know it is the foundation of a successful season and program.  Every coach taking over a new program looks to “change the culture”, or in other words, teach the pillars of their culture to the new team.  The goal is for the program to be better at doing the right thing when no one is around or watching and for teammates to hold each other accountable to the program's standards. 

Culture can be defined in many ways, but players doing what they are supposed to be doing, when they are supposed to be, is a vital indicator of a strong culture. Being on time is the key to operating efficiently. Using the XA Score platform, programs utilize its automated attendance feature with scoring to clearly illustrate how well their team, position groups, and individual are at being time. Not only does this help programs operate more efficiently, but provides a specific measure of your program’s culture and immediate feedback on concerns.

What else drives culture? A genuine connection between your coaches and student-athletes. This is paramount! Student-athletes know much more today about how sleep and mental health impact performance, and they want their coaches to know how they are doing. The key to this is communication. Every program using XA Score has conversations they would never have had without using it.  We can’t say for sure how many, but I strongly believe these conversations have kept at least one story out of the news.  Coaches are building rapport and improving trust with their athletes.

They don’t need to know how to deal with every situation that comes up, they just need to know to ask the question.  There are resources on every campus to help student-athletes with a wide range of issues.  In XA Score programs, this has been an athlete not sleeping well because he didn’t have a good pillow, which was solved with a best-pillow search in the coach's office.  Or an athlete who slept an hour and a half because his girlfriend broke up with him the night before. An athlete who just found out his dad has cancer.  All the way to an athlete in a very dark place needing professional help. 

When student-athletes can access XA Score, they can “let their coaches and staff know they are not doing well without saying a word.” - SEC Student-Athlete.

So many of these conversations are often missed. But when had, not only does a better connection follow, but so does awareness and opportunity for the coach to be better or different with that athlete going forward.  There is no denying that mental health and well-being are top of mind.  But it doesn’t always have to get in the way of our job as coaches to develop mental toughness.  We just need to be aware of what is going on in the lives of our athletes to better handle that aspect of our role.  

When coaches receive real-time, pinpoint data on who they need to have a conversation with, the process becomes much more effective.  When alerted each day with specific concerns so you can pull a student-athlete aside and have an idea why. Coaches are not guessing or trying to get a read on body language as to who needs you the most. This quickly improves genuine connections on your team, builds trust, and impacts your culture.

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