Solving Your β€˜Parents’ issue: Creating a value-based culture to transform your program

Mar 14, 2018

Culture has the power to build or break you as a team. It is the x-factor when the competition is tough, and the framework that holds every decision and every behavior on your team to a high standard. But how do you create a truly bulletproof, values-based team culture? And, the bigger question is, how can you create a team culture that extends all the way out to the parents?

We sit down with expert, John O’ Sullivan, an internationally known TEDx Speaker, and the founder of the Changing the Game Project, to discuss the following topics (and more!):


When there is an issue with parents, it typically comes out of fear. Fear for their kid that they won’t get playing time, that their hard work won’t be rewarded, or that the coach isn’t being fair to them. Irrational reactions, aggression, emotional outbursts, and unproductive communication methods typically stem from an emotional response to fear.

As a coach, you can combat fear by providing information to parents. When that fear disappears, you can actually make parents your biggest allies, and contributors to a positive team culture.

Related to parents, the interview also includes the following:

  • How to turn core values into core behaviors, and how to extend that to parents.
  • How to create a healthy communication channel with parents that is based on values
  • How to invest in your relationship with parents, and why it matters.

Watch the interview to learn more about actionable ways you can communicate with parents.


Culture is so much more than a simple list of words, or a dictated mission from the coach. As a coach and a leader, you set the tone for team culture through your actions. A series of little things done with great love over time make people want to follow you and add up to build loyalty on the team. As a team, it’s crucial to define your team culture with the team, and to recognize when teammates are exhibiting behaviors that show commitment to your team culture.

For example, if a cornerstone of your team culture is “fearlessness”, it’s important to recognize the athletes that are showing that, and to ask athletes to recognize that verbally about one another.

Related to culture, the interview also includes the following:

  • How to reinforce team culture by rewarding athletes for living the culture.
  • One 30-minute exercise that will align the values of every individual on your team.
  • How to turn core values into actions.

Watch the interview to learn more about actionable ways you can build strong, values-based team culture, with buy in from your athletes.

About John

John O’Sullivan is an internationally known TEDx Speaker and the founder of the Changing the Game Project, which he started in 2012 in order to better educate parents, coaches and youth sports organizations and put more “play” in playing sports. John is a former collegiate and professional soccer player, and coached for 20 years on the youth, high school and college level. He has been an advisor and presenter for numerous sporting organizations across the globe, including US Soccer, Football, Lacrosse, Swimming and Hockey, and he sits on the National Advisory Board for the Positive Coaching Alliance and the National Association for Physical Literacy.  John is the author of two #1 bestselling books, and his blog gets nearly 5 million visits a year. His goal today is to start a discussion about changing the environment in youth sports so we can keep more kids active, healthy and involved in physical activity.

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