top of page
  • Writer's pictureacoachsdiary

Owen Eastwood - Culture Affects Performance

Updated: Aug 27, 2023

Have you ever noticed how a player can be great for one team, and struggle or be a headache for other teams?

Culture plays such an important role in the success of athletes.

Owen Eastwood is a performance coach who has worked with some of the most elite teams and groups in the world, including Gareth Southgate's England Football team, the Command Group of NATO, the South African Cricket Team, corporate leadership teams, elite ballet, and the British Olympic team.

He said The English Institute of Sport shared with him that 70% of behavior is determined by the environment that you are in. Our behaviors, mindsets, and performances are fundamentally affected by the environments we are in.

He said that culture can be too abstract, but it is actually the most practical thing in the world: it is the environment we are in at any point in time and how it’s making us feel. Is it giving us confidence, do we feel like we belong, and do we feel like we are connected with the people around us? Those things are essential to success.

Michael Owen - The Effect of Culture

Owen shared a story about Michael Owen, an English soccer player who at one point was one of the best and most sought-after players in the world.

Michael Owen became a star in the Liverpool Football Club. He felt very connected to the team and the entire organization; he knew everyone in the organization, and everyone in the organization, from the athlete to the owners, knew him and his entire family.

He never had to stress about the social dynamics because he knew he belonged, knew his role, and felt very comfortable.

After a few years with Liverpool, he went to Real Madrid’s football club, and his experience was completely different. When he arrived, he was dropped in a meeting room with no formal introduction. He was never taught anything about the history of the club, the values of the club, or the style of play of the club.

He had a year-long anxiety reaction of, “I don’t think I belong here” because he felt like he was thrown out there to try and prove himself. Every training and every game was a proving ground where he had to show and prove why he was there.

He went from a relaxed, fun-loving teammate who was one of the best in the world, to an athlete who had lost his confidence and filled with anxiety. He had to waste a lot of energy trying to figure things out because the environment wasn’t set up for him to feel comfortable like it was at Liverpool.

How Do We Create The Best Environment For Success?

1 - Properly welcome new teammates into the team

When someone walks into a new locker room, they expend a lot of energy and headspace trying to figure out if they belong. This keeps them from being able to fully focus on doing their best work.

Have a plan for properly introducing them to the team so that they know they are a part of the inner circle and don’t have to wonder or second-guess joining the team.

I want every new teammate to leave KNOWING they belong and KNOWING they made the right choice in choosing us.

2 - Set and Align Goals

The leader must define the direction and goals for the team, establish clear expectations, manage the behavior of the team, and model the behaviors and expectations that they set. But they have to know that every individual also has their own goals and purpose for being here.

Talk about the goals you have, and talk about the goals your athletes have, and align those goals so that you are all moving and working together to achieve those goals.

3 - Create Growth Action Plans

Once you have a goal or a North Star to attack, create a plan for how you want to achieve those goals. What are 3-5 things that need to be done for you to reach those goals? What are 3-5 barriers that might get in the way? What are you going to do to overcome those barriers? A goal without a plan is just a wish. Know what you want to do, and then figure out how you are going to do it - together.

4 - Check In Regularly and Provide Healthy Feedback

Create a schedule for how often you want to check in with your athletes. A principal once knew she wanted to fire a teacher in October but waited until the school year to do so. It completely caught the teacher off guard, and the reason for the firing could have easily been fixed with communication.

When you are checking in regularly, you are truly coaching, teaching, and guiding your athletes. When feedback is a part of your culture, there are no surprises, and receiving and responding to constructive criticism becomes easier and the norm.

Performance Enablement is a framework that can help you grow and keep your best players. Performance Enablement helps you help your athletes accomplish their individual goals while working together to accomplish team goals.

Performance Enablement is a framework that can help you grow and keep your best players. Performance Enablement helps you help your athletes accomplish their individual goals while working together to accomplish team goals.

527 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page