Perceptions are crucial. In sports, how a team interprets its program or an opponent is often the best motivator -- and the forethought may even be a predictor of success. If athletes feel that their program is cared for, and that the established environment has been enriched, then they will want to hold down their end of the bargain -- whether it is an agreement in writing or not.
Some coaches have their players sign contracts in the beginning of a season, outlining the athletes' promises to put in substantial effort throughout the season. Others, like Coach K and his Redeem Team staff, leave coaching messages for the players (e.g. "We're 0-0" or "Play like a champion"), perhaps on the bus seats or in the locker room. And, it could be the latter that is the most important setting.
The locker room is like a baby's crib, even the womb, where players spend much time -- in play and preparation. Simply put, as Musselman suggests, it needs to become an atmosphere of development, just as the playing surface is one of learning and hard work. If the "preparation" room looks and feels good, the team is more likely to take care of its quarters. And if the pad is treated well, it will breed an aura of seriousness and sound teamwork. A nice place is much harder to mess up.
It's like the broken window theory. People are less likely to destroy a place, even commit a crime, if their surroundings are attended to in a thoughtful manner. Malcolm Gladwell explains how the theory relates to The Tipping Point:
The broken-window hypothesis was the inspiration for the cleanup of the subway system conducted by the New York City Transit Authority in the late eighties and early nineties. Why was the Transit Authority so intent on removing graffiti from every car and cracking down on the people who leaped over turnstiles without paying? Because those two "trivial" problems were thought to be tipping points-broken windows-that invited far more serious crimes.In a way, a team is influenced not only by the coaching staff, practice drills, and opponent, but by its environment.
Mind your digs, ya' dig?