Values Based Sport: How to Create an effective Values Based Sporting Environment.

Values Based Sport: How to Create an effective Values Based Sporting Environment.


Everyone talks about values based coaching.

Lots of people believe in values based management.

Even more promote the benefits of players and athletes coming up with a list of values on which to build a successful team preparation and performance environment.

And yet…in spite of all the talk about values and the millions of dollars being spent in professional sports around the world on developing values, mission statements and team trademarks, we still have sporting teams being destroyed by unprofessional preparation, poor alcohol and social drugs management, sexual harassment, violence, crime and misconduct.

So what is Values Based Sport how do you create an effective Values Based Sporting Environment?

The Typical Values Approach.

The typical “values” approach is to bring people together – in a professional sporting club this may mean coaches, management, staff and players – and ask them work together to come up with a set of words which express who they are as a group, what they believe in and what they stand for.

Having been through over one hundred of these sessions with professional and Olympic sports around the world, there is a fairly common list of values that people in sport tend to want to be identified by and with.

The Big Ten Values:

  1. Honesty;
  2. Integrity;
  3. Humility;
  4. Professionalism;
  5. Discipline;
  6. Toughness or some variation like ruthless, hard-core etc;
  7. Work ethic;
  8. Enjoyment / fun;
  9. Passion;
  10. Respect.

There are many, many others: you could add values like “pride”, “passion”, “team-spirit” and even “determination” – but when it comes to the Values thrown around in a sporting club or sporting program these ten are the most common.

And each of them are meaningless and worthless unless…..

The key to Values Based Sport – Living Values.

The key to creating and sustaining a Values based sporting organisation is not in the words you choose.

It is not in banners which proclaim the words to the world.

It is not in t-shirts which tell the world “this is who we are and what we stand for”.

The key to making it work is Living Values: bringing the words to life and giving them real meaning and relevance by your actions, standards and behaviours everyday.

Honesty – What does it look like?

Without doubt the most common values word that sporting organisations come up with is “honesty” – i.e. “we will be an honest group” or “we will conduct ourselves with honesty”.

And that sounds lovely, doesn’t it…weeeeeeeeeeee! Let’s all clap our hands and sing songs about butterflies and fairies. Hooray! We are honest!

Words, without actions are meaningless.

So what does honesty look like?

The Critical Step: Putting actions, standards and behaviours behind the words.

The critical step in this – and the step that most sporting organisations do not do, is to identify relevant actions, standards and behaviours which will bring the values to life.

For all sporting organisations, there are important situations and critical moments when the actions, standards and behaviours of athletes, coaches, management and staff need to reflect the organisation’s values.

For example, it is important that players “live” the organisation’s values in social situations, meeting sponsors, meeting fans and talking to media. It is important that players “live” the organisation’s values in the gym, during on field training and during recovery and injury management activities.

(Incidentally I have a great workshop program for sporting teams, sporting clubs and organisations who want to work through this Living Values process.

Here’s an example.

[table id=1 /]


  1. There is no doubt that a sporting organisation which aspires to greatness needs more than just a nice office, talented athletes and hard working coaches to realise its full potential;
  2. Values can be the underpinning strength – the character the cultural driving forces behind success if they have real meaning and relevance;
  3. The key to creating and sustaining a values based sporting organisation is Living Values: living the values in everything you do, every time, every day.

Wayne Goldsmith


  • Jeremy Pryce Posted March 7, 2011 7:31 pm

    I enjoyed this Wayne! Putting your money where your mouth is very important. Here´s a quote by Lou Holtz that I´ve found useful:
    “Ability is what you´re capable of doing,
    Motivation determines what you do and
    Attitude determines how well you do it”

    Motivation and attitude are what makes things happen. Without them, all we have is potential.


    • Wayne Goldsmith Posted March 8, 2011 10:29 am

      Thanks JP – great quote.

      I hear a lot of people talking up “our values” and “our culture” then you go to training and watch while players arrive late, not dressed in team gear, without their water bottles and who only stretch and prepare for training when they are being forced to by coaching and fitness staff.

      I find this exercise – teaching everyone what “values” actually look like in a real situation makes all the difference.



Add your comment or reply. Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

error: All Content on this site is Copyright Wayne Goldsmith.