Performance Environment - Drayson Hounsome, Rider University Soccer
As part of our Coaching Insight Series we spoke to Rider University's Head Women's Soccer Coach, Drayson Hounsome about what a performance environment looks like and the magic ingredient to achieving a positive team environment. We caught up in Baltimore during the US Soccer Coaching Convention hence the background noise!
Performance Environment - what does it look like at Rider University Soccer?
‘It starts with the team deciding what kind of team they want to be, and what they want to get out of their 4 years at the College level. We support the players to establish a set of core values - this is what we’re all about. That sets the standard for the performance. Then they come up with a set of behaviours to achieve those core values - what does it look like in training, in the gym, and what does it look like on game day - they set the expectations and if they can go above and beyond those - we can be exceptional in our behaviours which gives us a better chance to achieve success.'
'So for example - what do we want to be as a team style-wise? Do we want to be a team that keeps possession or a team that wins the ball back quickly, etc and how do we do this? What do we need to work on and why, both as a team and individually?'
Person First Approach - what other values do you look for outside of athletic ability?
'To create an environment where everybody's going to perform at their best - obviously with a team you have 22 different individuals coming together and if that teamwork is not right then the performance environment is not going to be very good.'
'We have to find the right personalities and mindsets that mesh together. This is an important part of the recruitment process outside of just athletic ability - it’s the teammates who help us with the fine details of that recruitment process, in particular how a player fits with the team’s core values which are owned by the team. As a result we have a group of players that are all driven, very focused and have bought into our style of play and what we want to achieve together.'
Leadership Group - do the leadership players help bring new players into the team culture?
'We have a leadership team that is made up of 1 to 2 players from each class, like 2 seniors, 2 juniors, 2 sophomores, and 2 freshmen. They’ll fine tune the core values for the team as well as help with the recruitment process on behalf of the group and make sure that we practice what we preach. As the coach I’m identifying the players initially but it doesn’t go any further unless those individuals fit into the culture of the team.'
Positive Performance Environment - what’s the magic ingredient?
"The respect from player to player is key!"
'How hard they work, how positive they behave and how they talk to others. There’s a respect and expectation that we’re going to push each other hard, in turn we’re going to become better players and a stronger team. If we want the team to perform at a high level - everyone needs to buy into the practice of learning. This includes the players watching their own video analysis and watching opponents. We assess individual and team performance after each game and we’ll share that feedback after a game. But the players have a personal responsibility to assess their own performance and identify positive areas and points to learn from.'