The Truth About Ownership in Athletics Today


Most coaches I talk to today mourn the struggle they have with their young players taking “ownership” of the team. Why aren’t they more responsible? Why don’t they think for themselves? Why do they need me to confront poor behavior from teammates and not do it themselves? Where are all the leaders?

My answer?  We stole it from them.

Youth culture today has embraced a certain leadership style from adults. We supervise more hours of their childhood and prescribe almost every activity in which they participate. We feel too much is at stake, so we just tell them what to do. They have gotten used to following—not leading. They are happy to raise their hand and ask: “What do you want us to do?” And we are all too happy to tell them. The truth is, young team members don’t feel like it is THEIR team. They would tell you it’s YOUR team. You own it. They rent it.

My friend Tim Hiller played college and professional football. He suggests we move from a “Command and Control” coaching style, to a “Give and Guide” coaching style. I think he’s right. Instead of conditioning players to always look to the sideline for cues, what if we equipped them to think like leaders? Then, you give them responsibility and guide them as they need it. In my experience, it’s the only hope we have of actually passing along “ownership” to our teams.

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The Truth About Ownership in Athletics Today