How Team Culture Creates Winning Programs With Coach Mark Mitchell
Coach Mitchell’s story of building team culture
Coach Mitch has been in the coaching game for over 30 years. Although he’s currently the Head Coach of Wilberforce University’s Men’s Basketball team, a team that has just hit the 10+ win mark in over 15 years under his first full year as the head coach, it has not always been a straight line of success. He would be the first to tell you this as he was an assistant coach on the high school level for a number of years. To put it in perspective, he was the runner up for various head coaching jobs 19 times. However, it was through his love of the game, team culture, persistency, and positive attitude that led to the first head coaching job on his 20th try.
His first head coaching job on the high school level was not easy. In fact, at this particular school the teenage murder rate was higher than the graduation rate. On top of that, the team won less than 5 games in the previous 4 seasons. However, even in light of the circumstances, he was able to help lead the team to a 22-3 season in his first year. How was he able to do this? Through building a strong team culture.
All In Takeaway #1
- Listen: You must make sure to start out with listening to the rest of the team. In doing this, you will learn more about each individual.
- Invest: You must invest in your team. Doing so will start the process of trust and growth from each athlete and coach.
- Love: You must be constantly showing love to your team. Doing this will create lasting relationships, even outside the game of basketball.
All In Takeaway #2
When coming into a new program that has struggled in the past, you must understand that THEY WANT CHANGE TOO. Establishing a strong team culture was the highest priority for Coach Mitch when trying to turn the team around heading into his first season. When establishing a team culture that is different than the one previously in place, it MUST be extreme. As he puts it, the ones that resist change “must be punched in the mouth.” Not literally, but figuratively.
All In Takeaway #3
As a head coach, there is value to removing yourself from practice and taking a “bird’s eye view” Allowing your assistants to take complete responsibility in coaching a drill, practice, scrimmage, etc., allows for two things to happen. First, through taking a “bird’s eye view”, you are going to be able to understand your athletes better. You will be able to see more clearly what each athlete excels at and where they have room to grow. Second, it will allow the assistants to develop through delegating full responsibility and help improve and strengthen the assistant to player relationships.
All In Takeaway #4
Know when to win, enjoy the process, and paint pictures of hope. In reflecting on over 30 years of coaching, Coach Mitch said that his biggest mistake was how tough he was early on. Even though he experienced many years of success in wins and championships early on in his career, it is hard for him to recall specifically what happened due to the lack of enjoyment he had in the process. Thus, he has quickly learned to approach the game with a love first mindset. Doing this will help the athletes not only develop on the court, but help develop lifelong relationships off the court.
After his head coaching job at the high school, Coach Mitch went on to take a coaching position at the Ohio State University’s Women’s basketball team for a number of years. Currently, he is heading into his 3rd season as the Men’s Head Coach for Wilberforce University’s basketball team after coming off a double-digit winning season. Wilberforce will be a force to be reckoned with as Coach Mitch looks to help put the team in a position to win a title.
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