Written by Scott Bauman
For starters, I would recommend looking into You Win in the Locker Room First by Jon Gordon. A book providing ideas and anecdotes to build a locker room based on culture and commitment. Those aforementioned core values are recognized as the 7 C’s contributing toward program success, here are the other 5:
Maybe condensed in your program, or even expanded; every coach looks to infuse a blend of these characteristics to build their locker room – literally and figuratively. An actual locker room should be an area of comfort for student-athletes. The locker room often is the essence of competitive sports creating camaraderie and unforgettable memories. As coaches, we aim to #BuildTheLockerRoom to meet both objectives.
Removing ourselves from the arm’s race that can exist with athletic facilities, what is the implicit value we look to create from the locker room? Within our program we want our locker room to provide 3 attributes to our program:
- Cues of Competition
Our staff’s office is connected to the athletes’ locker room, which is imaginably positive and negative. The positive comes from the visibility to communicate with each student-athlete that comes through the doors on a daily basis. The negative is the preferred privacy for both parties, as we tend to always leave our door open.
Walk with me here. Visualize the student-athlete experience – every day they have to walk into the locker room past our office towards their locker facing the whiteboard. Each wall that the athletes pass is a blank billboard; an opportunity that we look to use for marketing and educational purposes. On our office window, we put up weekly newsletters that look to provide reminders of schedules, diagrams of sets or drills, and quotes related to program points of emphasis.
Our whiteboard is adjacent to our 4-Factors statboard, which is comparable to the example seen below that is not nearly as aesthetically pleasing.
- Assists to Turnovers
- Paint Touches (Plus / Minus to Opponent)
- 50 / 50 (Loose Balls / 2nd Chance Opportunities)
- Kills – 3 Stops in a Row Defensively
After every practice and game, everyone comes back to the same place to reflect and unwind. The locker-room should be a place where guys can come back speak their minds with their teammates without having to look over their shoulders or of concern that coach can hear them. This is where I had mentioned the negative component of having the staff office in close proximity to the rest of the group. Clearly, this belief comes with the caveat that our locker room is built to be strong enough to have candid and constructive conversations without being inflicted. Additionally, these guys are at a time of their life experiencing a lot of fun things that are shared in the locker room.
At the root of any successful team is the connectivity of the group. Having meaningful relationships that share in the success of others and embrace the collective competitiveness that sports intend to create. Following every practice and game, we break the huddle the same way, which until vigorously argued otherwise will not change, “Together.”
Cues of Competitiveness
A few additions that I look to place in our locker room:
- Slap-sign for our way out the door reminding the team to “Go Get It”
- Replica banners of league championships
- Academic Honors (3.25 GPA Graduates)
“Future belonging is a primal cue: a simple, direct signal that activates our built-in motivational triggers, funneling our energy and attention toward a goal.” (The Talent Code)
The locker room creates an environment with or without signage. We want to create energy reminding members of our program the tradition of success that has come through those same doors – academically and through competition.