Culture Building: Should You Create Pressure or Permission?

Greg Revak

Greg Revak is a Certified Level 4 USA Hockey Coach. You can find him on Twitter @CoachRevak. or sign up for his Hockey IQ Newsletter.

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Finding a balance between pressure and permission is one of the most important things to recognize. Both can be used to great effect.
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“Yelling at your team is like yelling at your spouse. The more you do it, the less effective it becomes.” – Matt “Cookie” Koch (HC University of Akron)

This post is for anyone who is a coach, parent, teammate, coworker, or human that interacts with other humans. It’s for everyone.

There are always plenty of things to worry about and decisions to be made. Even a non-decision is a decision. Every decision has downstream effects that have real consequences.

Downstream Effects

This post is around the simple framework that what you do either creates pressure or permission to the person you’re interacting with. It’s the end result of your words and actions.

Pressure and permission both have their pros & cons and can be used at different times to positively affect behavior and performance.

At the end of the day, it’s not what is said or done, but what is conveyed and received. When interacting with someone, you’re either creating permissions or creating pressures.

It’s conditioning for culture.

For example, a coach being worried about glaring turnovers leading to goals may not allow a defenseman to use the middle of the ice and communicate they are to go only up the boards.

That pressure applied to a player could be good or bad. While in this case, the coach may no longer see the obvious turnover and goal against, but likely will see plenty of goals scored from the neutral zone regroup coming right back in or failed zone exits.

Finding a balance between pressure and permission is one of the most important things to recognize. Both can be used to great effect . . .

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