ASK KOLAT: How to Get Your Athletes to Buy In

A Culture for Success

Cary Kolat answers the question, “How do you get your athletes to buy in?” This is an extensive question but Kolat breaks it down in detail. To create a program where your team trains, wrestles and behaves at a certain level you need your athletes to subscribe to that culture. Culture is the expression of a team’s values, attitudes, and goals about wrestling, competition, and relationships. But, there are a few aspects that are sometimes overlooked.

Setting the Guidelines

You can’t lead your wrestling team like they’re sheep. Rather, lead them in a way that is respectful and makes them want to follow you. Delegate leadership roles to them. Illustrate to your team the way you want them to compose themselves. For example, Kolat always tells his teams NCAA champions do more than just team practice. He tells them not to show they’re tired. When you establish and instill these ground rules in your team, that creates a positive culture.

Behaviors on Match Day

Little things like getting back to center first during a match shows effort which creates momentum and excitement. Another example of program principles would be a gear checklist that your team reviews before they leave for any competition. These precautions avoid running into the problem of someone forgetting a singlet or missing headgear. Kolat encourages his team to be loud and supportive of their teammates during a dual. Creating that energy in a gym is powerful. You’re giving your teammates support and motivation. When the fans get involved there is a lot of energy in the room and fans have a better time. It makes fans want to participate and support the program.

Buy In Doesn’t Happen Overnight

As a leader, you have to clearly lay out and define the goals of the program. If you don’t, then no one else will know. You have to make sure the plan is there and they don’t forget it. Establishing the expectations of the coaching staff and of teammates is the first step but change doesn’t happen extremely fast. No one gets to a program and immediately flips their mentality. By reinforcing the principles and habits of a successful program change will come. It will get easier as time goes on and new people join the program with existing core principles.

 

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