People, Participation, Progression, Performance in Hockey

What high performance culture looks like

10 things high performing teams have in common

A list from (Adam Commens Australian Hockey gold medal winner from his 2 Gold medal campaigns)

If you are half an hour early you’re late
Both teams had a critical mass of players that loved the game, loved improving and loved working hard. Athletes came early to training to work on things they knew would help them reach their dreams

They knew what World Best looked like

Both teams were innovators and challenged the status quo. Innovators in sport are not the 50yr old coaches, its the imagination of the worlds best players. As coaches we must aim to create an environment that allows innovation to flourish

Hard work is a given, quality makes the difference

At the top level everyone works hard, it’s not a difference maker. Both teams worked their arses off, but each individual knew they had to bring something unique (their superpower) to the team in order to add value

There was a culture of caring and mateship

Everyone had each others back, no hierarchy, just a group of players that were willing to help each other achieve their dream. Almost 20 years after Athens, our squad is tight, regardless of being spread across the globe

The team is only as good as the squad around it

Although I didn’t play in 2004, I experienced the sheer competitive nature of a squad of World class athletes pushing for selection every day. Without competition for places, complacency can exist.

Details matter, but execution counts

Every top team analyse the game thoroughly, details can make the difference, but in reality all top teams do this well. In ’04 AUST won in golden goal, in ’21 BEL won in a s/outs. The details mattered, but it was the execution that counted

New Physical standards were established, and it was contagious!

In ’04 one of my teammates began riding his bike to training for some extra aerobic work. 2 wks later the whole team was doing it. In ’21 the gym was a 2nd home for the Red Lions, they loved it, and it showed

Trust was central

The Red Lions trust in the staff and each other was evident in Rio and grew through to Tokyo. The connection between the coaches and players went further than just hockey, and in the key moments this brought clarity to messages and erased doubt.

Connection is more important than tactics

In teams, it takes work to have a good connection with all teammates and staff. Both teams that won Gold spent an enormous amount of time learning the “why” behind each individual. This is one key element in building connection


In big games you need some luck. You can probably say that both the Kookaburras in 2004 and the Red Lions in 2021 made their own luck. In a game of fine margins where 50/50 umpire decisions can turn a match, both these teams had fate on their side.

@adamcommens on twitter