Developing a positive culture within your team is critical to every winning season. 

Team culture determines how the members interact with each other before, during, and after the game; how the team approaches wins and losses.

Your team’s culture is defined by how you play when what matters is on the line.


From talking with Sport Fuels Life members, we know there are (at least)  seven key characteristics of a winning team culture.

  1. It starts with a shared purpose.

Having a shared purpose creates a collective sense of belonging. It serves as glue that keeps the team cohesive. It ensures everyone is working toward the same thing. Part of having a shared purpose is knowing your core values. When teams are clear on what they value above all else, decision-making becomes streamlined, and tension gets sidelined.  

  1. Winning teams have a foundation of trust and openness.

If there is trust among the team, and everyone is willing to work together, the team can address any problem it faces. Trust provides safety, allowing the defenses to come down and improved performance to take its place. Trust is built through respect and care and by inviting vulnerability and appropriate risk-taking into the growth process.  

  1. A team with trust and a shared purpose will empower athletes to solve problems.

Teams can effectively address problems and strengthen weaknesses by practicing “consensus decision making”—a creative process in which everyone affected by the decision works together to find a solution. The team considers all avenues and angles instead of voting on a set of choices. The consensus decision-making process advocates for creative deliberation until reaching a decision that does not go against anyone’s will, cultivating trust and respect.  

  1. A team that empowers athletes to solve problems will naturally empower athletes to speak up. 

“Psychological safety” is the idea that you can speak up without being reprimanded, punished, humiliated, or otherwise put down, and it also encourages innovation. When a team empowers its athletes to speak up—through collaborating on a solution, asking a question, or presenting an issue—it reinforces a feeling of interdependence and a sense of belonging. And a sense of belonging on a team encourages participative leadership.

  1. Winning teams know how to play together, and not only when the fans are in the stands.

Winning teams know they have to keep the fun in the game, no matter how serious they take it. Check back next month for more on how to bring fun to the field!

  1. Winning teams rely on accountability.  

Without accountability in a team, trust dissipates. Established expectations and roles encourage team members to own their mistakes and to follow through on commitments. Ownership and follow-through prevent the pattern of blaming one another when things don’t go as planned and encourage development at every opportunity. 

  1. In a winning team, everyone stays teachable.

When teams practice holding themselves accountable to their goals, they remain humble. And when everyone has the willingness to learn and correct mistakes, the team moves forward as a unit.  

Here at Sport Fuels Life, we often talk about the magic of sports. Part of that magic exists in how we grow together in our teams. Winning teams know that the more successful they are as a team, the more successful they are at the game and in life. Let us know what you have found that helps build a positive team culture in the comments!

Learn more about the positive power of sports by registering today with Sport Fuels Life.